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The Repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise 

Its Origin and Authorship 

P. Orman Ray, Ph. D. 

Professor of History and Political Science, 
The Pennsylvania State College 

Cleveland, Ohio 

The Arthur H. Clark Company 



MAR lb 1909 

1 O^ XXc, NO. 






My Secretary of State for Home Affairs 
commissioned for life 


Preface ...... n 

Introduction . . . . . 15 

Chapter I. Missouri Politics, 1 844- 1852- 
Benton's Retirement from the Senate-The 
Jackson Resolutions-Benton's "Appeal" 27 

Chapter II. Missouri Politics, 1844- 1852 
(continued) -James S. Green's Reply to 
Benton's "Appeal. "-Benton's Election to 
the House in 1852 .... 51 

Chapter III. The Pacific Railroad-Ben- 
ton's "Central National Highway"-Ne- 
braska Territorial Movement, 1852-Abel- 
ard Guthrie-Douglas's Lack of Interest in 
Nebraska-Atchison's Inconsistency . 72 

Chapter IV. The Missouri Senatorial Cam- 
paign of 1853-Controversy over the Legal- 
ity of "Immediate" Settlement in Nebras- 
ka-Atchison is Forced to Champion the 
Repeal. ..... 109 

Chapter V. The Provisional Government 
of Nebraska-Rev. Thomas Johnson-The 
Commissioner of Indian Affairs Visits Ne- 
braska-Charges against Him . . 142 

CHAPTER VI. Popular Interest in Nebraska 
among Missourians and Iowans-Hadley 


D. Johnson-Congressional Action Antici- 
pated-Senator Douglas in Europe-His Let- 
ter to Walker and Lanphier-The Doctrine 
of Supersedure .... 163 

Chapter VII. The Congressional Aspects 
of the Missouri Contest-The Nebraska Bill 
in the 33d Congress-The Evidence of 
Washington Correspondents-Pressure upon 
Douglas to Champion the Repeal-The In- 
fluence of Senator Atchison-Report of Jan- 
uary 4, [854-Dixon's Amendment-The Ad- 
ministration ..... 195 
Chapter VIII. The Congressional Aspects 
of the Missouri Contest (continued) -How 
the Kansas-Nebraska Bill with the Repeal 
Affected Colonel Benton-Senator Atchi- 
son's Letter Reviewing the Campaign-Col- 
onel John A. Parker's "Secret History of 
the Kansas-Nebraska Bill"-Testimonv of 
Francis P. Blair, Jr.-Senator Atchison, the 
Real Author of the Repeal. . . 220 

A. A New Explanation of Senator Douglas's 
Motives. ..... 237 

B. William C. Price. . . . 243 

C. Senator Atchison's Letter. June 5, 1854. 253 

D. Colonel Parker's "Secret History of the 
Kansas-Nebraska Bill " . . . 264 

E. Atchison's Claims and Douglas's Denials. 276 

F. Selected Bibliography . . . 289 


This book is a thesis submitted to the University 
Faculty of Cornell University in partial fulfillment 
of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of 
Philosophy. It embodies the results of an investiga- 
tion begun in the American History Seminary at 
Cornell University in 1902-1903. 

The manuscript has been read by Dr. Charles 
H. Hull, Professor of American History, Cornell 
University, Dr. Ralph C. H. Catterall, Professor of 
European History, Cornell University, and by Dr. 
James A. Woodburn, Professor of American History 
and Politics, Indiana State University. To each of 
these gentlemen I am indebted for valuable sugges- 
tions. Especially large is the debt I owe to Doc- 
tor Hull, not only for his unflagging interest, con- 
stant encouragement and active assistance in obtain- 
ing material, but also for many keen, but kindly, 
criticisms and much invaluable advice in the ardu- 
ous labor of preparing the work for publication. 

Cordial thanks are due to Hon. Kirk D. 
Pierce, of Hillsboro, New Hampshire, for unre- 
stricted access to the existing papers of his uncle, 
President Franklin Pierce; to Mrs. R. E. Wynne of 
Tappahannock, Virginia, for the opportunity to ex- 


amine the existing papers of her father, Colonel 
John A. Parker; to Hon. George W. Martin, Secre- 
tary of the Kansas State Historical Society, William 
E. Connelley, Esq., of Topeka, Kansas, William M. 
Paxton, Esq., of Platte City, Missouri, Professor 
Allen Johnson of Bowdoin College, the late Colonel 
William F. Switzler of Columbia, Missouri, and 
the late Miss Mary Louise Dalton, Librarian of the 
Missouri Historical Society of St. Louis, for placing 
in my hands material which without their kind as- 
sistance would have been inaccessible. 

I am under great obligation to the officials 
of the Boston Public Library, the Library of the 
Boston Athenaeum, Harvard University Library, the 
Library of the University of Missouri, the Wiscon- 
sin State Historical Library, the Pennsylvania State 
Library, the Library of Cornell University, the Li- 
brary of the University of Vermont, the Library of 
the Pennsylvania State College, and the Library 
of Congress. Their uniform courtesy and valuable 
assistance have greatly facilitated the collection of 
material for this book. 

A word of grateful appreciation is also due 
those individuals, too numerous to mention by name, 
who have taken pains to reply to letters asking 
for information upon a multitude of minor points. 

Some criticism is anticipated on account of the 
length of many quotations in the text. Two reasons 
may be offered in defense. First, it has seemed de- 
sirable to render accessible to students, lay and pro- 
fessional, much of the new evidence upon which this 
work is based and which otherwise would remain 


nearly or quite as inaccessible as manuscript material. 
In the second place, the unusually full presentation 
of evidence reflects a desire to remove reasonable 
ground for asserting that the author has colored or 
distorted the evidence to prove his case. 

Invaluable assistance in the reading of proof has 
been rendered by my wife and by Mr. Edwin Angell 
Cottrell, Instructor in History and Political Science 
in the Pennsylvania State College. 

P. Orman Ray 
State College, Pa., 

September 1, 1908. 


The repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854 
stands conspicuous as a turning point of the Amer- 
ican slavery controversy. It put an end forever to 
the long series of accommodations between the terri- 
torial claims of slavery and freedom. In the presi- 
dential campaign of 1852 both parties had endorsed 
as final the adjustment made two years before, and 
had condemned all attempts to reopen the slavery 
question. Within the halls of Congress and with- 
out, acquiescence in the finality of the Compromise 
of 1850 had become the test of political orthodoxy 
for Whigs and for Democrats alike. 

Such was the artificial equilibrium when the 
33d Congress convened in December, 1853. Within 
a month the slumbering agitation had flamed forth 
anew. An apparently innocent bill to organize a 
territorial government west of the Missouri River 
provoked a gigantic and picturesque parliamentary 
duel in the Senate Chamber of the United States, 
and we who are wise after the fact can see that with 
the termination of this last gladiatorial combat in 
the arena of Congress the day had passed for peace- 
ful adjustments and for compromises based upon 
mutual good faith. The estrangement of the sec- 


tions was irreconcilable. The appeal to arms was 
the only and inevitable means of ending forever the 
irrepressible conflict. 

During the four months' debate while the Kan- 
sas-Nebraska bill was pending in Congress, 1 the in- 
terest of the nation was focused upon the proceed- 
ings of that body. Polemical writers, taken un- 
awares by the sudden revival of the slavery dispute, 
immediately set at work explaining legislative occur- 
rences and imputing motives on the basis of what 
appeared in the Congressional Globe. Historians 
have generally followed them, and are practically 
unanimous in assigning the authorship of the Repeal 
to Hon. Stephen A. Douglas ; but they offer a variety 
of suggestions as to his purposes and motives in pre- 
cipitating a new agitation of the slavery question. 

According to Schouler, 2 the Repeal was the re- 
sult of a plot in which Douglas appears as the arch- 
conspirator, seeking purely selfish ends through ob- 
sequious pandering to an insatiable Slave Power. 
Von Hoist's explanation covers several pages, but 
is fairly well summarized in these sentences: 

"The drawing of the slavery question into the bill for the 
organization of the Territory of Nebraska, which was so complete 
a surprise, was originally intended .... to be only a tactical 
manoeuvre. Douglas wished to avert the injury which threat- 

1 The bill first passed the Senate, March 4, 1854. It passed the House 
in an amended form, May 22; on the twenty-fifth, the Senate concurred 
in the House amendments. President Pierce signed the act, May 30. Cong. 
Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 532; Pt. ii, 1254, 1321. The Act may be found, 
printed in full, in U. S. Statutes at Large, x, 277 ff . ; Cong. Globe, xxviii, 
Pt. iii, 2225 ff. ; Poore's Charters and Constitutions, i, 569 ff. 

2 Schouler's Hist, of the U. S., v, 280, 290. 


ened his party because of the attitude assumed by the President 
toward the Softs of New York." 3 

Woodrow Wilson speaks of Douglas's "strong, 
coarse-grained, unsensitive nature, his western au- 
dacity, his love of leading, and leading boldly, in the 
direction whither, as it seemed to him, there lay party 
strength." 4 Mr. Rhodes, accepting the motive as- 
signed in the Appeal of the Independent Democrats 
in Congress, 5 namely, that the dearest interests of the 
people were made "the mere hazards of a presiden- 
tial game," insists that the action of the Illinois Sen- 
ator was "a bid for Southern support in the next 
Democratic Convention." 6 

Professor Burgess assigns a more creditable mo- 
tive and a higher purpose to Mr. Douglas, and his 

3 Von Hoist's Constitutional and Political Hist, of the U. S., iv, 350. 
This explanation is based upon what purports to have been a statement once 
made by Douglas himself: 

"He once subsequently in the fall of 1853 confessed 'that his party in 
the election of Pierce had consumed all its powder, and that therefore 
without a deep-reaching agitation, it would have no more ammunition for 
its artillery.'" (Ibid., 315.) 

Von Hoist cites Kapp's Geschichte der Sklaverei, 295. But Kapp 
himself gives no authority and says merely that such was Douglas's opinion. 
The translator of Von Hoist puts Kapp's statement in quotation marks, and 
we find Rhodes led to the false conclusiop that the words were actually 
uttered by Douglas; Rhodes's Hist, of the U. S., i, 430. 

4 Division and Reunion, 184; History of the American People, iv, 
166 ff. 

5 Published January 24, 1854; Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 281. 

6 Rhodes's Hist, of the U. S., i, 429-430. Prof. T. C. Smith, obviously 
following Rhodes, says: 

"Douglas appears to have introduced this singular and startling project 
entirely on his own motion, and its purpose seems to have been nothing 
more or less than an effort on the part of a presidential candidate to secure 
favor in a quarter where he lacked popularity." — Parties and Slavery, 
1850-1859, 96. 


explanation has of late been gaining wide accept- 
ance. 7 

"Mr. Douglas was a Western Democrat; that is, he was a 
radical Democrat. He had, therefore, an exaggerated notion of 
the virtues of the people, and of the importance of local autonomy. 
He resented the idea that the sturdy adventurers who accom- 
plished the first settlement of a Western Territory were not as 
fully capable of local self-government, from the very outset, as 
the 'effeminate' inhabitants of an Eastern Commonwealth. He 
repudiated the notion that they needed any pupilage from the 
general government in the management of public affairs. He 
was not alone in such views. It is safe to say that the mass of 

the people in his section held the same views at that time 

Is it not, then, fair to say that Mr. Douglas, in all probability, 
really believed that the reference of the questions in regard to 
slavery to the residents of each Territory, as well as to those of 
each 'State', was the true principle of the political science of the 
Republic, and the true policy of its legislation? If his convictions 
and his ambition went hand in hand, and if his convictions were 
not the product of his ambition, should he be so harshly criticised 
for declaring them? It is true that his announcement of them 
filled the land with clamor and angry dispute, and that their adop- 
tion by Congress led to violence, bloodshed, and war; but can we 
conclude that he had any conception whatsoever that this could be 
the result of them? Is it not far more probable that he thought 
the quiet of the country would be confirmed and forever estab- 
lished by their general acceptance? There is certainly ground for 
this view of his motives. It is certainly very improbable that there 
was ever any balancing, in his mind, of risks to his country's 
peace and safety against his ambition for the presidency. It is 
much more probable that he believed his principles without his 
presidency, would contribute, in a high degree, to the peace and 
welfare of his country, but that, taken together with his presi- 

7 The Middle Period, 385. See also an article on "Douglas and 
Popular Sovereignty" by Professor Allen Johnson, in Iowa Journal of His- 
tory and Politics, for January and July, 1905. 


dency, they would shed untold blessings upon the land. This is 
no unusual psychology. It is decidedly common." 

The standard explanations just quoted are for 
several reasons thoroughly unsatisfactory. 8 They 
are merely conjectural. And they derive no great 
support from Mr. Douglas's own assertion that he 
had been pressing the Nebraska bill upon the at- 
tention of Congress for "eight long years," 9 for this 
assertion is untrue. Although Mr. Douglas had 
been chairman of the Senate Committee on Terri- 
tories throughout this period, the records of Con- 
gress fail to show the introduction by him of any 
bill looking toward the territorial organization of 
Nebraska after December, 1848, until he reported 
the Kansas-Nebraska bill in January, 1854: for more 
than four years he was wholly silent upon the sub- 

These conjectural explanations may serve to 
show why Senator Douglas, if called upon in Jan- 
uary, 1854, to choose between the settlement of the 
question of slavery in Nebraska upon the principle 
of popular sovereignty, entailing the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise, and the further delay in the 
establishment of a territorial government, might 

8 Messrs. J. Amos Barrett and A. E. Sheldon, of the Nebraska Histor- 
ical Society, are the authors of perhaps the most recent and novel explana- 
tion of Mr. Douglas's motives. This appeared in the Omaha Bee, June 
5, 1904. The argument is based upon very weak premises, and will be 
considered at some length in the Appendix to this volume. The best and 
most recent biography of Mr. Douglas, by Professor Allen Johnson, gives 
no satisfactory explanation. 

9 Cong. Globe, xxvi, 1117. See also Douglas's speech at Chicago, Nov. 
9, 1854, and Cutts's Constitutional and Party Questions, 87. Professor 
Johnson accepts this statement at its face value. 


favor the Repeal. But they do not indicate that any 
such alternative was presented to Mr. Douglas. In 
the circumstances under which the Nebraska bill, 
after passing the House, failed in the Senate in the 
last crowded days of the session, in March, 1853, 
there was nothing to require the insertion of the re- 
pealing clause in order to make the measure accept- 
able to the next Congress. Mr. Douglas himself de- 
clared that he knew there was a majority in its 
favor. 10 

Let it be remembered also that no motive of 
political self-preservation could have led Mr. Doug- 
las to originate the Repeal in 1854. His seat in the 
Senate was perfectly secure, threatened by no rival, 
actual or prospective. He had been reelected in 
1852 without opposition, and of his new term only 
nine months had elapsed before the opening of the 
Congress which enacted the Kansas-Nebraska bill. 

Unless some such alternative were presented to 
him, it is highly improbable that Mr. Douglas would 
have raised the question himself; for, furthermore, 
he had eulogized the adjustment made in 1820, as 
a compromise "canonized in the hearts of the Amer- 
ican people, as a sacred thing which no ruthless hand 
would ever be reckless enough to disturb." " On at 
least three different occasions within a decade he had 
brought forward and advocated the extension of the 

*0 March 3, 1853; Cong. Globe, xxvi, 1117. 

H October 23, 1849, in a speech at Springfield, 111. Quoted in Von 
Hoist's Const, and Pol. Hist. U. S., iv, 334 n. 1.; by Jehu Baker in a speech 
at Belleville, 111., October 18, 1854, reported in the Weekly Democratic 
Press (Chicago), November 11, 1854; and by Cullom, Cong. Globe, xxix, 


Missouri Compromise line as a means of settling the 
question of slavery in the new Territories. 12 He had 
even announced in 1851 his resolute determination 
"never to make another speech on the slavery ques- 
tion" and had added the "hope that the necessity for 
it will never exist." 13 

Under these circumstances, Mr. Douglas's cham- 
pionship of the Repeal inevitably gave rise to charges 
of infidelity to his party's platform recognizing the 
finality of the settlement of 1850, and of gross per- 
sonal inconsistency. Such charges Mr. Douglas 
must have foreseen; and a politician of his prom- 
inence and shrewdness, entertaining presidential as- 
pirations, would not gratuitously have provoked 
them. The charge of inconsistency, to be sure, he 
subsequently sought to parry by asserting that the 
Compromise of 1850 had established a precedent, a 
new principle, for the settlement of the question of 
slavery in new Territories; and that it had "super- 
seded" or was "inconsistent with" the Compromise of 
1820. But this explanation seems to have been an 

In short, Mr. Douglas was thoroughly com- 
mitted to the Missouri Compromise, he was not par- 
ticularly interested in Nebraska, and he was subject 
in 1853 to no political necessity originating in his own 
position which could have forced him to adopt a 

12 In 1845, in connection with the resolutions for the annexation of 
Texas; in 1846, as a substitute for the Wilmot Proviso; in 1848, when the 
Oregon bill was under consideration; Cong. Globe, xviii, 1062. See Doug- 
las's speech, December 23, 1851, in Cong. Globe, xxv, 67; and his speech at 
Chicago, November 9, 1854. 

13 December 23, 1851 ; Cong. Globe, xxv, 67. 


course so manifestly dangerous and which in its out- 
come wrecked his career. 

On the other hand, there was a member of the 
Senate who belonged to the radical wing of the 
Democratic party and had long regarded the Mis- 
souri Compromise restriction as unconstitutional. 
His senatorial existence was in jeopardy and for his 
political salvation the repeal of the Compromise in 
1854 seemed absolutely essential. On more than one 
occasion, he afterwards lay claim to the honor, as he 
regarded it, of originating the Repeal. 

Senator David R. Atchison of Missouri stands 
a rival claimant for consideration as the real author 
of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. 

In a speech at Atchison, in Kansas Territory, a 
few months after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska 
bill, 14 Senator Atchison asserted that at the opening 
of the 33d Congress, he had desired the chairmanship 
of the Committee on Territories in order to introduce 
a bill for a territorial government in Nebraska which 
should repeal the Missouri Compromise. With this 
object in view "he had a private interview with Mr. 
Douglas and informed him of what he desired." 
"Judge Douglas requested twenty-four hours to con- 
sider the matter," offering to resign the chairman- 
ship "if at the expiration of that time he could not 
introduce such a bill" as Mr. Atchison proposed. 
"At the expiration of the given time Senator Douglas 
signified his intention to report such a bill as had 
been spoken of." Senator Atchison is reported to 

14 September 20, 1854; reported in New York Tribune, October io, 
1854, and June 4, 1855. 


have used emphatic language when asserting his 
claim on this occasion: "Gentlemen, you make a 
d — d fuss about Douglas, but Douglas don't deserve 
the credit of this Nebraska bill. I told Douglas to 
introduce it. I originated it. I got Pierce com- 
mitted to it, and all the glory belongs to me." His- 
torians have disparaged this claim because it was 
made when Mr. Atchison was "under the influence 
of the invisible spirit of wine." 

There is no evidence, however, that Mr. At- 
chison was intoxicated when he recurred to the 
same subject at Platte City, Missouri, in February, 
1856. 15 Referring to speeches made by him "all over 
the State" in 1853 in which he had pledged himself 
to vote for a bill establishing a territorial govern- 
ment in Nebraska on the one condition that the Mis- 
souri Compromise was repealed, telling the people 
that "unless that restriction was repealed" he "would 
see them damned" before he would support such a 
bill, Mr. Atchison said, "Well, it was done. I do 
not say that I did it, but I was a prominent agent" 

Some time after the publication of Mr. Atchi- 
son's claims Senator Douglas characterized the re- 
ports of Atchison's remarks as a "stale abolition 
libel," 16 and the issue of veracity thus raised between 
Mr. Douglas and Mr. Atchison historians have sum- 
marily adjudged in favor of Mr. Douglas on the 
ground that the claims of Mr. Atchison were made 
during a state of intoxication. This is entirely un- 

15 New York Times, February 25, 1856. 

16 April 14, 1856; Cong. Globe, 1st Sess., 34th Cong., App. 390 ff. See 
Appendix E. 


satisfactory because while the fact of intoxication 
may impair the force of Atchison's claims, it does not 
warrant their total rejection. 

The issue thus raised and the inadequacy of the 
standard explanations justify an attempt to explain 
the origin of the Repeal by looking away from the 
pages of the Congressional Globe, and studying the 
political conditions existing in the State of Mis- 
souri. 17 To advance a new explanation, resulting 
from such a study, of the circumstances under which 
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was con- 
ceived; and to explain how the Repeal happened to 
occur early in 1854 when the country had been lulled 
into apparent quietude after the tumultuous agitation 
threatening the integrity of the Union, constitute 
the main purpose of this book. Closely connected 
with this, there is a problem of secondary impor- 
tance, namely, the question who originated the sug- 
gestion of the Repeal. 

17 The possibility of a western or Missouri origin of the Repeal has 
not escaped such leading historians as Rhodes and Von Hoist but its signif- 
icance is not appreciated; Rhodes's Hist, of the U. S., i, 431, 440; Von 
Hoist's Const, and Pol. Hist. U. S., iv, 285 ff. 


Missouri Politics, 1844-1852-Bentons Retirement from the Sen- 
ate-The Jackson Resolutions-Benton s "Appeal." 

For a decade prior to the repeal of the Mis- 
souri Compromise, the Democratic party in Missouri 
had been rent with internal dissensions. These were 
but one manifestation of a cleavage running through 
the Democratic party in the Southern States during 
these years, separating into one faction the radical, 
secessionist followers of Mr. Calhoun, and into the 
other, the conservative elements opposed to disunion 
tendencies. 18 In no State, however, was the war be- 
tween these factions characterized by a greater bit- 
terness of feeling and violence of utterance than in 
the State of Missouri. There the disciples of Mr. 
Calhoun found leaders in David R. Atchison and 
James S. Green. In the opposing faction no one 
equalled in prominence and influence Calhoun's bit- 
ter political and personal enemy, Colonel Thomas 

18 The fight of 1849-51 "in which Benton was overthrown was merely 
the Missouri extension of the conflict between the Calhoun and the Jackson 
elements of the Democracy which raged through most of the slave States, 
but which was particularly fierce in the border tier, in which the Jack- 
sonians had been largely in the preponderance in the beginning." — Good- 
speed, Weston Arthur, Editor-in-Chief, Provinces and States; A History 
of the Province of Louisiana under France and Spain, and of the Territories 
and States formed therefrom, iv, 108. Hereafter cited as Goodspeed. 


H. Benton. Chiefly to the peculiar characteristics 
of Colonel Benton is to be attributed the extraordi- 
nary fierceness of the conflict in Missouri. 

Both Mr. Atchison and Colonel Benton were 
members of the 33d Congress: Atchison, in the 
Senate; Benton, in the House. Atchison had never 
played a prominent part in national politics. Ben- 
ton had been conspicuously before the public for a 
generation. He was a statesman of the old school; 
personally ostentatious and overbearing, respected 
and honored, but never loved. Atchison, a younger 
man, was a politician of the new school; swaggering 
and coarse, but magnetic, skilful in intrigue, and a 
masterful manipulator of men. The name of one is 
writ large in the annals of the country: the name of 
the other has come down to posterity as that of a 
"Border Ruffian." 

In 1853-54 tne factional war in Missouri was at 
its height. Colonel Benton, after thirty years in the 
Senate, had been defeated for reelection in 1850 by 
a combination of radical Democrats and Whigs. 
Almost immediately he had been elected to the 
House of Representatives where he sat during the 
debate on the Kansas-Nebraska bill. He ardently 
desired to return to the Senate in March, 1855, as the 
successor of Mr. Atchison. Mr. Atchison desired to 
be his own successor. The final stage of the contest 
for the senatorial succession began as early as the 
spring of 1853. When the Missouri Compromise 
was repealed the next year, Colonel Benton was 
struggling desperately to restore his waning political 
power in the State, and Senator Atchison was no less 


strenuously endeavoring to bring about his own re- 
election to the Senate. The political ambition and 
success of one inevitably involved the political de- 
struction of the other. Quarter was neither asked 
nor given. From the State of Missouri, the scene 
of its birth, this titanic struggle was transferred to 
Washington and there, in the arena of national pol- 
itics, it led to the proposal to repeal the Missouri 

For a clear understanding of the way in which a 
senatorial contest in a single State could produce 
such stupendous national consequences as were 
wrought by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, 
it becomes necessary to examine in some detail the 
political conditions existing in Missouri in the decade 
preceding the Repeal. By untangling the confused 
and complex issues then before the people of that 
State we shall set the Repeal in a new and true light. 
It will signally illustrate the way in which State 
political issues have been transformed, more fre- 
quently than is generally realized, into national is- 
sues. It will show that a correct understanding of 
national issues may require a thorough study of local 

The story of Senator Benton's retirement from 
the Senate begins with his attitude toward Mr. Cal- 
houn and the policies for which Mr. Calhoun stood, 19 
especially with his opposition to the plans of the ag- 
gressive and radical pro-slavery element in the Mis- 


19 Goodspeed, iv, 84; Niles's Register, lxvi, 444. 


souri Democracy which derived its principles from 
the great Nullifier. 20 

Since the time when Colonel Benton had de- 
fended and supported President Jackson in his policy 
toward Nullification in South Carolina, Mr. Cal- 
houn and Senator Benton had been personal and 
political enemies. 21 With his characteristically fear- 
less and energetic opposition, the latter had been con- 
spicuously instrumental in defeating Mr. Calhoun's 
scheme for the "immediate" annexation of Texas by 
the treaty signed the twelfth of April, 1844, and re- 
jected by the Senate on the twelfth of June in the 
same year. 22 

20 In assigning the causes which led to Benton's retirement one must 
not overlook those repellent personal characteristics which no doubt played 
a considerable part in his political overthrow. These, taken with his long 
residence in Washington which removed him from close and sympathetic 
contact with the younger generation of Missourians and from a first-hand 
knowledge of actual conditions in Missouri, probably had a great deal to 
do in undermining his power and in strengthening the arm of his enemies. 
A brief but excellent statement of these peculiarities of Benton is to be 
found in Rogers's Life of Thomas Hart Benton, 228, 283, 297, 312-313, 315, 
318; hereafter cited as Rogers's Benton. 

21 "I am mortified to dwell upon Mr. Calhoun He has been 

instigating attacks upon me for twenty years — ever since I stood by 
Jackson and the Union in the first war of nullification. His Duff Green 
Telegraph commenced upon me at the same time that it did upon Jackson, 
and for the same cause — because we stood by the Union." — Benton's 
speech, Jefferson City, Mo., May 26, 1849. Niles's Register, lxxv, 390 ff. 

"He [Benton] says I instigated attacks on him for twenty years. I 
instigate attacks on him! He must have a very exalted opinion of him- 
self. I never thought of such a thing. We move in different spheres. 
My course is, and has been, to have nothing to do with him. I never 
wanted his support, nor dreaded his opposition." — Calhoun's Reply men- 
tioned in note 45. 

22 Benton's Thirty Years' View, ii, 581 ff. See also Benton's Jefferson 
City speech, May 26, 1849; Stephens's The War between the States, ii, 242; 
Calhoun's "Correspondence" in American Historical Association's Report, 
1899, i', 633, 635, 636, 658. 


In retaliation, an active organization of the 
friends of Mr. Calhoun and the "immediate" annex- 
ation of Texas appeared in the State of Missouri 
when the time came round late in 1844 for Mr. Ben- 
ton's fifth election. This movement had the support, 
so Colonel Benton claimed, of "every Calhoun man 
and every Calhoun newspaper in the State and in the 
United States." 23 Instructions alleged to have been 
inspired by Mr. Calhoun were sent to hundreds of 
newspapers over the country, intended for their 
guidance in the presidential and state elections and 
especially to defeat Mr. Benton's own election. 
These instructions advised and urged attacks upon 
Benton by showing that he had allied himself with 
the Whigs on the Texas question. "Quote," said the 
instructions, "Jackson's letter on Texas, 24 where he de- 
nounces all those as traitors to the country who op- 
pose the treaty. Apply it to Benton. Proclaim that 
Benton, by attacking Mr. Tyler and his friends, and 
driving them from the party, is aiding the election 
of Mr. Clay; and charge him with doing this to 
defeat Mr. Polk, and insure himself the succession 
in 1848; and claim that full justice be done the acts 
and motives of John Tyler by the leaders. Harp 

22 "In the year 1844, as it will be remembered, when my fifth election 
was coming round, there was an organization against me in the State, 
supported by every Calhoun man, and every Calhoun newspaper in the 
State, and in the United States. There was a coincidence in their opera- 
tions which showed that they worked by a pattern. I knew at the time 
where it all came from ; and the source has since been authentically revealed 
to me " Benton's Jefferson City speech. 

24 Letter of Andrew Jackson to William B. Lewis, January 28, 1844, 
in N. Y. Public Library Bulletin, iv, 308. 


upon these strings." 25 So far as Missouri was con- 
cerned it appears that these instructions were obeyed 
to the letter. 26 

This effort of Mr. Calhoun and his friends to 
discredit Colonel Benton by emphasizing his oppo- 
sition to the annexation of Texas was probably the 
strongest move which could have been made at that 
time to undermine Benton's political supremacy in 
Missouri. An overwhelming majority of the people 
of that State ardently favored the acquisition of 
Texas. 27 The Legislature which met in December, 
1844, had adopted a memorial to Congress urging 
the annexation of Texas at the "earliest practicable 
moment." 28 

25 Quoted in Benton's Jefferson City speech. 

26 "How well the instructions were obeyed was seen in this State, and 
in other States, and in all the presses and politicians which followed the 
lead of 'our leading friend at the South.' Benton — Clay — Whigs — 
Texas. Harp upon these strings, and harp they did until the strings were 
worn out ; and then the harps were hung upon the willows." — Benton's 
Jefferson City speech. 

27 "The State of Missouri is more deeply interested in the annexation 
of Texas than any other State;" Benton's remarks in the Senate, in pre- 
senting this memorial, January 20, 1845; Cong. Globe, xiv, 154-155. See 
also Benton's View, ii, 615; Carr's Missouri, 193-199; Calhoun's "Corres- 
pondence," 633, 635, 636, 658, 954, 969, 1197, 1199. The people of Missouri 
were "for speedy annexation regardless of the smiles or frown of foreign 
nations;" letter of Andrew Jackson to B. F. Butler, May 14, 1844, printed in 
Am. Hist. Rev., xi, 833. See also Niles's Register, lxvii, 42 (September 
21, 1844), quoting the Richmond Whig; Goodspeed, iv, ch. 9. 

Senator Atchison, then serving his first term in the Senate, warmly 
supported Mr. Calhoun's annexation scheme; Niles's Register, lxxii, 278, 
quoting the Missouri Republican. 

28 Before the adoption of this memorial, the friends of Mr. Calhoun 
tried to amend it so as to urge "immediate" annexation, but in this they 
failed. As a rejoinder to this attempt, the following resolutions, inspired 
by Colonel Benton and very well indicating his feeling toward Mr. Calhoun 


Despite these assaults upon his position respect- 
ing Texas, Colonel Benton was triumphantly re- 
elected to the Senate in January, 1845; and at the 
beginning of his fifth term he was without any ques- 
tion the most powerful man in Missouri politics. 
Prior to 1844 it had been supposed to be "political 
death for any man even to whisper a breath against 
'Old Bullion,' the idol of Missouri." 29 The attacks 
upon him which appear in the campaign of that year 
had been inspired by parties outside the State. One 
effect seems to have been the encouragement of radi- 
cal pro-slavery men and the enemies of Benton with- 
in the State to unite and form a more perfect organi- 

at this time, were offered as a substitute for the memorial finally adopted: 

"1. [Resolved] That in the opinion of this General Assembly, the 
treaty of the twelfth day of April, 1844, for the annexation of Texas to 
the United States was an intrigue for the Presidency, and a contrivance 
to get the southern States out of the Union, instead of getting Texas 
states into it, and was among the most unscrupulous intrigues which any 
country ever saw — and nullified the choice of the people, and the rights 
of the people, and the principles of our Government. 

"2. [Resolved] That the ratification of the treaty for the annexation 
of Texas to the United States would have been an adoption of the Texas 
war with Mexico by the United States, and would devolve its conduct 
and conclusion on the United States. 

"3. [Resolved] That the treaty-making power does not extend to 
the power of making war, and the President and Senate have no right 
to make war either by declaration or adoption. 

"4. [Resolved] That the war with Mexico, in which the United 
States were in danger of being involved by the President of the United 
States and the Secretary of State, would have been unconstitutional, per- 
fidious, clandestine, and piratical." 

These resolutions were voted down; indeed it seems probable that the 
author had no expectation of their passage. They may be found in Niles's 
Register, lxvii, 278 (January 4, 1845). 

29 From a statement by Judge William C. Price, an influential oppo- 
nent of Benton, reported to me by William E. Connelley, Esq., of Topeka, 
Kansas. See also Meigs's Life of Thomas Hart Benton, 405 ff . ; hereafter 
cited as Meigs's Benton. 


zation — an organization having for one of its main 
purposes the overthrow of Senator Benton as the 
controlling factor in Missouri politics. 30 In addi- 
tion to the ardent supporters of Mr. Calhoun, Ben- 
ton's enemies comprised all those who for one reason 
or another had become restive and discontented under 
the political absolutism which he had exercised for 
more than twenty years. 31 

Perhaps no individual at the beginning of the 
war upon Benton was more active and influential in 
uniting into a highly efficient political machine all 
those elements in the Missouri Democracy which 
were hostile, or inclined to be hostile, to Senator 
Benton than Judge William C. Price, a cousin of 
Sterling Price, the Confederate General. It appears 
that Judge Price was in close and constant communi- 
cation with Mr. Calhoun, Jefferson Davis, John C. 
Breckinridge, Robert Toombs and Judah P. Benja- 
min; and that upon the subject of slavery he was a 
radical of the radicals. He was a man of an in- 
tensely religious nature, and a firm believer in the 
righteousness of slavery. The perpetuation and ex- 

30 The following statement was reduced to writing by Roland Hughes, 
Esq., of Kansas City, Mo., and given to Mr. Connelley, to whom I am 
indebted for it. "General David R. Atchison told me, in a conversation 
at his house, under the shade of an oak tree in his front yard, about three 
years before his death [which occurred in 1886] these words, 'Claiborne 
F. Jackson, Trusten Polk, William C Price and I, entered into a con- 
spiracy to defeat and destroy Benton. We succeeded in defeating Benton, 
but by God, it retired Dave Atchison from public life.'" Unfortunately 
the statement gives no date for the formation of this "conspiracy," but 
there is good reason for thinking that it must have been in 1844 or 1845. 
See Goodspeed, iv, 84. 

31 On Benton's political absolutism, see Meigs's Benton, 403 ff., 
especially 408-409. 


tension of the "peculiar institution" he sincerely be- 
lieved to be indispensable to the welfare of Missouri 
and of the South. Missouri, he was convinced, 
could not long remain a slave State with Iowa free 
on the north, Illinois free on the east, and a free 
State on the west. Missouri must therefore con- 
trive in some way to remove the Missouri Compro- 
mise prohibition, the chief obstacle to the westward 
extension of slavery. With the zeal of a fanatic, 
tempered by sound political discretion, Judge Price 
visited all parts of the State of Missouri, urging 
upon politicians the special interest which the slave- 
holders of the State had in bringing about in the 
near future the abrogation of the old Compromise 
inhibition. He even went so far, some time in the 
year 1844, as to suggest that abrogation to Senator 
Benton. Instantly and in his characteristically 
brusque manner, Colonel Benton spurned and re- 
pudiated the suggestion. 

Chiefly because of his opposition to Mr. Cal- 
houn's annexation treaty, but also because he refused 
to endorse the suggested repeal of the Compromise, 
Senator Benton was, from the year 1844, marked for 
political annihilation by the aggressive leaders of the 
South, and by the radical slavery extension faction 
in the Missouri Democracy. Up to this time he 
and Price had been warm friends. They never 
spoke afterwards. Judge Price registered a vow to 
drive Benton from public life: in the presence of 
a large company gathered in a store on St. Louis 
street in Springfield, Missouri, he vowed he would 
fight Benton to the death. To make it more open 


and public, he wrote his determination on the walls 
of the store where it remained until the building was 
torn down after the Civil War. 32 

There is a lamentable lack of evidence disclos- 
ing the actual tactics employed by the Missouri 
radicals in the next three or four years. The lack 
may be explained in part by the necessity, dictated 
by practical political considerations, of proceeding 
with silence or secrecy until a strong organization 
could be effected. v So long as Benton's prestige in 
the State remained unimpaired, so long as the fed- 
eral patronage falling to the State was largely under 
his control, so long did he constitute the chief ob- 
stacle to the realization of the schemes of Mr. Cal- 
houn's friends in Missouri. To have heralded with 
the blare of trumpets their various moves to compass 
the ultimate overthrow of Benton might have been 
to do the historian a great service, but obviously it 
would have stamped the conspirators as the most in- 
experienced of politicians. 

Nevertheless the controversy could not be kept 

32 Judge Price always maintained that the idea or suggestion of the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise originated with him. Whether or not 
this is so it is perhaps impossible, in the nature of the case, to determine. 
His work was doubtless important in creating a sentiment in western 
Missouri favorable to such a project, but this is to be carefully distin- 
guished from the steps which actually accomplished the Repeal in 1854. 
I have found no evidence which directly connects Judge Price with the 
origin of the Repeal via the Kansas-Nebraska bill. 

To Mr. Connelley I am indebted for the facts given in the last two 
paragraphs in the text. Mr. Connelley was related by marriage to Judge 
Price, and was personally well acquainted with him. There is a brief 
biographical sketch of Judge Price in Mr. Connelley's The Provisional 
Government of Nebraska Territory, 28; this work is hereafter cited as 
Connelley's Prov. Gov. See also Appendix B. 


wholly out of sight Two sets of resolutions, intro- 
duced into the Legislature which met in December, 
1846, one pro-Benton and the other anti-Benton, 
show how it was developing. The following resolu- 
tions were approved by the Governor, February 
15, 1847: 33 

"Resolved, by the State of Missouri as follows: 

"i. That the peace, permanency, and welfare of our nation 
depend upon the strict adherence to the letter and spirit of the 
8th section of the Act of the Congress of the United States, 
entitled 'an Act to authorize the people of Missouri Territory to 
form a constitution and State government, and for the admission 
of such State into the Union on an equal footing with the original 
States, and to prohibit slavery in certain territories, approved 
March 6, 1820.' 

"2. That our Senators in the Congress of the United States 
are hereby instructed and our Representatives requested, to vote 
in accordance with the provisions and spirit of the said 8th section 
of said Act in all questions which may come before them in relation 
to the organization of new Territories or States out of the territory 
now belonging to the United States or which may hereafter be 
acquired by purchase, treaty or by conquest. 

"3. That a copy of these resolutions should be forwarded by 
the Secretary of State to each of our Senators and Representatives 
in Congress of the United States." 

The introduction of these resolutions appears to 
have been taken as a challenge by the pro-slavery 

33 Laws of Missouri, 1846-47, 367. These resolutions are quoted 
in a speech by Oliver of Missouri in the House of Representatives, May 17, 
1854, Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. ii, 1209, and ibid., xxxi, 726; also in Benton's 
speech, April 25, 1854, ibid., xxviii, Pt. ii, 986, and ibid., xxxi, 557, and in 
his Jefferson City speech, May 26, 1849. The resolutions were presented to 
the House by Willard P. Hall, of Missouri, and to the Senate by Mr. 
Atchison, on Dec. 21, 1847, and Jan. 31, 1848, respectively; House Journal, 
1st Sess., 30th Cong., 138, Senate Journal, 141. See also Switzler's 
Missouri, 269, and the Jefferson Inquirer, Dec. 17, 1853. 


faction, for at the same session of the General As- 
sembly, Claiborne F. Jackson, a prominent radical, 
introduced counter resolutions designed to "instruct 
Benton out of the Senate." 34 So strong, however, 
was the majority of Benton men in the Legislature 
that Jackson was unable to carry his resolutions even 
through the Senate where he introduced them. But 
the opponents of Benton coalesced so rapidly with 
the pro-slavery elements in Missouri, that by the 
time the next General Assembly met in December, 
1848, they had voting strength sufficient to bring 
about the adoption of the "Jackson Resolutions" of 
which the most important are the following: 3; 

34 "To accomplish his [Benton's] political destruction they contrived to 
have passed through the general assembly of Missouri during the winter 
of 1848-49 the celebrated Jackson resolutions, instructing him how to vote 
on the great question of that day then pending in the Senate resolutions 
of Mr. Calhoun. They knew that he would not obey them, because, first, 
of the disunion doctrine contained in them, and, second, of personal resent- 
ment at the audacity of attempting to instruct Benton on such a subject." 
J. H. Birch, quoted by Hon. A. M. Dockery of Missouri in Cong. Record, 
3d Sess., 55th Cong., Pt. iii, 1463. 

35 The first two resolutions were as follows: 

"Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri: 
"1. That the Federal Constitution was the result of a compromise 
between the conflicting interests of the States which formed it, and in no 
part of that instrument is to be found any delegation of power to Con- 
gress to legislate upon the subject of slavery, except some special pro- 
visions having in view the prospective abolition of the African slave trade, 
made for the securing the recovery of fugitive slaves; any attempt, there- 
fore, on the part of Congress to legislate on this subject, so as to affect 
the institution of slavery in the States, in the District of Columbia or in 
the Territories, is, to say the least, a violation of the principles upon which 
that instrument was founded. 

"2. That the Territories acquired by the blood and treasure of the 
whole nation, ought to be governed for the common benefit of the people 
of all the States, and any organization of the Territorial governments, 
excluding the citizens of any part of the Union from removing to such 
Territories with their property, would be an exercise of power, by Congress, 


[Resolved] "3. That this General Assembly regard the 
conduct of the Northern States on the subject of slavery as 
releasing the slaveholding States from all further adherence to 
the basis of Compromise fixed on by the Act of Congress of March 
6, 1820; even if such Act ever did impose any obligation upon the 
slaveholding States, and authorizes them to insist upon their rights 
under the Constitution; but for the sake of harmony and for the 
preservation of our Federal Union, they will still sanction the 
application of the principles of the Missouri Compromise to the 
recent territorial acquisitions, if by such concession future aggres- 
sions upon the equal rights of the States may be arrested and the 
spirit of anti-slavery fanaticism be extinguished. 

"4. The right to prohibit slavery in any Territory, belongs ' 
exclusively to the people thereof, and can only be exercised by 
them in forming their Constitution for a State Government, or 
in their sovereign capacity as an independent State. 

"5. That in the event of the passage of any Act of Con- 
gress conflicting with the principles herein expressed, Missouri will 
be found in hearty cooperation with the slaveholding States, in 
such measures as may be deemed necessary for our mutual pro- 
tection against the encroachments of Northern fanaticism. 

"6. That our Senators in Congress be instructed and our 
Representatives be requested to act in conformity with the fore- 
going resolutions." 36 

The first appearance of the "Jackson Resolu- 
tions" 37 in the Legislature was marked by Colonel 

inconsistent with the spirit upon which our federal compact was based, 
insulting to the sovereignty and dignity of the States thus affected, cal- 
culated to alienate one portion of the Union from another, and tending 
ultimately to disunion." 

A supplementary resolution was adopted instructing the Secretary 
of State to transmit a copy of the Resolutions "to each of our Senators 
and Representatives in Congress and to the Executive of each of the several 
States with the request that the same be laid before each of their respect- 
ive Legislatures." 

36 These resolutions are given in full in Laws of Missouri, 1848-4Q, 
667, in Switzler's Missouri, 265-266, and in Cong. Globe, xxi, Pt. i, 97-98, 
ibid., xxxi, 726, Carr's Missouri, 223 ff., and Meigs's Benton, 409-410. 

37 Meigs, in his Life of Benton, denominates these resolutions the 


Benton and their origin was known to him. But 
though well aware that the friends of Mr. Calhoun i 
had been in a "perpetual state of incubation," since 
the failure of their plot in 1844, he decided to let 
the new plot which they were hatching "quit its 
shell." The legislators generally he did not hold 
responsible for the Jackson Resolutions. "I do not 
believe," he declared, "there exceeded half a dozen 
members in the two Houses, all told, who had the 
scienter of their origin and design, or meant harm 
to the country or myself." He was confident, there- 
fore, that a hint from himself "would have stopped 
the whole proceeding." But that would have done 
him no good: "it would only have postponed and 
changed the form of the work." Accordingly he 
said nothing to "alarm the operators," and wrote not 
a word on the subject — "not a word to any of the 
three hundred members who would have blown the 

"Napton-Jackson Resolutions." In the newspapers of the period they are 
constantly and almost uniformly called the "Jackson Resolutions." They 
were introduced into the Missouri Senate Jan. i, 1849, b >' Carry Wells, 
a Democrat, and were referred to the Committee on Federal Relations of 
which Claiborne F. Jackson was chairman. As chairman of this Com- 
mittee, Jackson reported the resolutions in the form in which they passed, 
and hence the name, Jackson Resolutions. The resolutions were ap- 
proved, March 10, 1849. The final vote in the House on their adoption 
stood, 53 to 27: all but four of the negative votes were cast by Whigs; 
Switzler's Missouri, 265-266. See also Davis and Durrie's Missouri, 141, 
Paxton's Annals of Platte County, no (hereafter cited as Paxton's Annals) ; 
Jefferson Inquirer, June 11 and Aug. 20, 1853; Missouri House Journal, 
J848-49, Appendix, 219 ff. The real author of the Resolutions appears 
to have been Judge W. B. Napton; Meigs's Benton, 410, Goodspeed, iv, 103 
ff., and Benton's speech at Fayette, Mo., Sept. 1, 1849. 


resolutions sky-high if they had known their origin 
and design." 38 

Had it not been for Colonel Benton's very dif- 
ferent and extraordinary course in relation to these 
Resolutions at a subsequent date, no more significance 
might have attached to them than to similar res- 
olutions aimed against the Wilmot Proviso and 
passed about the same time by the Legislatures of 
Texas, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, and North Car- 
olina. 39 But on the ninth day of May, 1849, Colonel 
Benton issued his famous "Appeal" to the people of 
Missouri from the legislative instructions contained 
in the Jackson Resolutions. 40 "If they confirm the 
instructions," said Benton, "I shall give them an op- 
portunity to find a Senator to carry their will into 
effect, as I cannot do anything to dissolve this Union, 
or to array one-half of it against the other." "I do 
not admit the dissolution of the Union," he continued, 
"to be a remedy to be prescribed by statesmen for 
the diseases of the body politic any more than I ad- 
mit death, or suicide to be a remedy for the diseases 
of the natural body. Cure and not kill, is the only 
remedy which my mind can contemplate in either 

38 The phrases quoted in this paragraph are from Benton's Jefferson 
City speech. 

39 These resolutions may be found in the Laws of the State of Texas, 
1848-49, 93 ff. ; Laws of the General Assembly of Maryland, 1849-50, 
Resolution No. 37; Acts of the State of Georgia, 1849-50, 405 ff . ; Acts 
of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1848-49, 257 ff . ; ibid., 1849-50, 233 
ff.; Laws of North Carolina, 1848-49, 237 ff. 

40 The "Appeal" took the form of a letter addressed to "The People 
of Missouri." It may be found in the Western Eagle (Cape Girardeau, 
Mo.), May 11, 1849, copied from the St. Louis Union; also in Niles's 
Register, Ixxv, 332 (May 23, 1849). 


case I appeal from these instructions to the 

people of Missouri — to the whole body of the people 
— and in due [time] will give my reasons for doing 
so I shall abide the decision of the whole peo- 
ple and nothing less." 

The "due time" soon arrived. On the twenty- 
sixth of May, 1849, in a speech of great length, de- 
livered in the hall of the House of Representatives at 
Jefferson City, Senator Benton denounced the Jack- 
son Resolutions in the most unsparing terms, declar- 
ing that they were aimed at himself and the stability 
of the Union, and reiterated his appeal from the 
Legislature to the people. 41 

In the Jackson Resolutions he affected to discern 
the hand of his old enemy. The burden of his ar- 
gument was their substantial identity with the reso- 
lutions introduced into the Senate of the United 
States by Mr. Calhoun on the nineteenth day of Feb- 
ruary, 1847. If this identity could be established, 
Mr. Calhoun's well-known hostility to Senator Ben- 
ton, his doubtful loyalty to the Union, and the dis- 
credit cast upon his resolutions in the Senate would 
materially assist Senator Benton in the difficult task 
of justifying, before a constituency which cherished 
the right of instruction as something sacred, his for- 
mal appeal from the instructions of the General As- 

41 This Jefferson City speech may be found in a bound volume of 
pamphlets in the library of the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis; in 
pamphlet form in the library of the Wisconsin Historical Society; also in 
N lies' s Register, lxxv, 390 ff. "The whole conception, concoction and passage 
of the resolutions was done upon conspiracy, perfected by fraud. It was a 
plot to get me out of the Senate and out of the way of the disunion 
plotters." — Benton's speech at Fayette, September 1, 1849. 


The Jackson Resolutions, Benton declared, were 
"a mere copy of the Calhoun resolutions offered in 
the Senate" and denounced by him at the time "as 
a fire-brand, intended for electioneering and dis- 
union purposes." 42 The Calhoun resolutions were 
the "prototype" of those of the Missouri Legislature. 
He could (or would) see no difference in them "but 
in the time contemplated for the dissolution of the 
Union, Mr. Calhoun's tending ^directly^ and those 
of Missouri, 'ultimately' to that point. In other 
respects they are identical." The Calhoun resolu- 
tions were "the parent" of the Jackson Resolutions. 
"When the original is invalidated, the copy is of no 

avail He [Mr. Calhoun] is the head mover 

and contriver." Not only was the authorship of both 
sets of resolutions identical, but the purpose of each 
was the same, namely, "to deny the right of Congress 
to prevent or prohibit slavery in territories and to 
denounce a dissolution of the Union if it did. One 
was parent to the other, and I presume no man will 
deny it." 43 The real design in the Resolutions, Ben- 
ton asserted at another point in his speech, was to 
constitute "a pledge of the State to back Mr. Cal- 

42 Benton had also denounced these Calhoun resolutions in a speech 
delivered at a dinner given in his honor in St. Louis early in June, 1847. 
Niles's Register, Ixxii, 222-223, quoting the St. Louis Republican. See Mr. 
Calhoun's Reply to Col. Benton mentioned in note 45. 

43 To this last sweeping assertion, "truth and justice" compelled Benton 
to make an exception: "I have no idea that the mass of members who 
voted for the Resolutions in the last General Assembly had any idea that 
they were Calhoun's or considered the dissolution of the Union, which 
they announce, as a thing in actual contemplation. But they are not the 
less injurious on that account. They are the Act of the General Assembly, 
and stand for the act of the State, and bind it to the car of Mr. Calhoun, 
and encourage him more than any other event that has taken place " 


houn in his designs to put the State under his lead," 
and to stop Benton's "opposition to his mad career:" 
to understand the Jackson Resolutions and "to see 
their design, you must know" Calhoun's. 44 The 
greater part of the speech thus takes the form of a 
violent attack upon Mr. Calhoun. 45 

44 At another point in this speech Benton said: the Jackson Resolu- 
tions "were copied from Mr. Calhoun; and to see their design you must 
know his. His were aimed at the Union .... and at the members from 
the slaveholding States ivho would not follow his lead — myself especially." 
The italics are mine. See Mr. Calhoun's Reply to Col. Benton mentioned 
in note 45. 

45 On June 23, 1849, Calhoun wrote to Andrew Pickens Calhoun: 
". . . . You see that Benton has openly deserted and that he pours out 
his venom against me. [Referring to the Jefferson City speech.] I am 
averse to touching him, and, if his aim had been against me exclusively, 
I would not notice him. But such is not the fact. He strikes at the South 
and its cause through me; and I have concluded to repel his attack against 
myself, to the extent that it is necessary to repel it against the South. 
His whole speech is a mass of false statements, illogical conclusions and 
contradictions. I expect to appear in the Messenger, in the number suc- 
ceeding the next. Neither he [n]or his cause will gain anything by the 

attack " Calhoun's "Correspondence" in Am. Hist. Assn. Report, 

1899, ii, 768-769. 

Calhoun's Reply to Benton, mentioned in the letter just quoted, first 
appeared in the Pendleton Messenger, July 14, 1849, and was copied into 
the Charleston Courier, July 17, 1849, where it fills over seven columns. 
It is also to be found in the Library of Congress in a pamphlet entitled, 
Mr. Calhoun's Reply to Col. Benton (n. p., n. d.). 

The Reply is addressed "To the People of the Southern States." Mr. 
Calhoun says that the main purpose of the Reply was to repel "all the 
charges intended to shake your confidence in my fidelity to you, in refer- 
ence to the most vital of all subjects to the South;" and to demonstrate 
that "they all rest either on statements that are utterly false; or con- 
clusions that are entirely erroneous or inconclusive All that 

was directed against me personally, and not intended to impeach my 
fidelity to you and your cause" is passed over. "I have also passed over 
the torrent of abuse he poured out against me .... because I deem it 
beneath my notice." 

The Reply contributes nothing to the history of the Jackson Resolutions 
or the course of Missouri politics, and is therefore of slight value in this 


In order to cast still further discredit upon the 
Jackson Resolutions, Colonel Benton pointed to cir- 
cumstances connected with their passage through the 
Legislature which seriously impaired their force as 

connection. The opening paragraphs, indicating Calhoun's contemptuous 
opinion of Benton, may be quoted here: 

"Several reasons would have prevented me from taking any notice of 
Col. Benton, if his attack in his late speech, delivered in the Capitol 
of Missouri, had been directed exclusively against me. The line of con- 
duct I have prescribed to myself, in reference to him, is to have as little 
to do with him as possible; and, I accordingly, never notice what comes 
from him, even in his character as Senator, when I can avoid doing so 
consistently with my public duties. I regard him in a light very different 
from what he seems to regard me, if we may judge from the frequency 
and violence of his attacks on me. He seems to think I stand in his way, 
and that I am ever engaged in some scheme to put him down. I, on the 
contrary, have never for a moment thought of raising him to the level 
of a competitor, or rival, nor considered it of any importance to me 
whether he should be put down or not. He must think he has something 
to gain by assailing me ; I, on the contrary, feel I have nothing to gain 
by noticing him, and when compelled to do so, am satisfied if I escape 
without some loss of self-respect. I have another reason for not desiring 
to notice him on the present occasion. All his charges against me, with 
few and trifling exceptions, are but the reiterations of those often made 
heretofore by himself and others, and which I have met and successfully 
repelled in my place in the Senate or community, there can be no better 
proof, than is afforded in the laborious and tiresome effort he made in 
his present speech to revive and give them circulation. 

"Under the influence of these reasons, I would have remained silent 
had I alone been concerned. But such is not the case. His blow is aimed 
much more at you than me. He strikes at me for the double purpose 
of weakening me in your confidence, and of striking at you and your cause 
through me, which he thinks can be done more effectually indirectly, than 
directly. Thus regarding his attack, I feel it to be a duty I owe you and 
your cause to repel it." 

Commenting upon Calhoun's reply, the Western Eagle (Whig) said: 
"The issue is fully made up between these two distinguished Democratic 
rivals ; and as the burden of proof rests with Benton, he must sustain his 
charges or be considered a slanderer." (Aug. 3, 1849.) 


"The Resolutions were introduced at the very beginning of 
the session; they lay torpid until its end. The plotters were 
awaiting the signal, from the 'leading friend' — waiting the Cal- 
houn address. The moment they got it, they acted, although it 
was too late for the Resolutions to have the effect of instructions. 
They were passed after Congress had adjourned, and after it 
must have been believed that the subject to which they relate had 
been disposed of; for it was notorious that the territorial govern- 
ment bills were in process of enactment, and in fact only failed 
after midnight on the last night of the session, and that on dis- 
agreement between the two Houses; and their failure, on the 3rd 
of March, was not known at Jefferson on the 7th — the day of 
passing the Resolutions. It was too late to pass the Resolutions 
for the purpose of instructing me how to vote at Washington. 
It was too late for that; but was early enough for the summer 
campaign at home; and therefore they were passed." 

Then with all the energy he could summon, 
Benton hurled his anathema at the plotters: 

"Between them and me, henceforth and forever, a high wall, 
and a deep ditch ! and no communion, no compromise, no caucus 

with them Woe to the judges, if any such there are in 

this work! The children of Israel could not stand the govern- 
ment of Judges; nor can we " 46 

Having demonstrated his main proposition that 
the Missouri Resolutions were copied from those of 
Mr. Calhoun and that "the subversion of the Union 
is intended," Senator Benton declared in closing: 

"In the execution of this design I cannot be an instrument, 
nor can I believe that the people, or the mass of the General 
Assembly wish it; and I deem it right to have a full understanding 
with my constituents on the whole matter. 

"I therefore appeal from the instructions I have received, 

46 The last sentence was probably directed against Judge Price, Judge 
Napton, Judge James H. Birch, one of the most bitter of Benton's enemies, 
and Senator Atchison who, before his election to the Senate, had held a 


because they are in conflict with instructions already received and 
obeyed 47 — because they did not emanate from any known desire, 
or understood will, of the people — because they contain uncon- 
stitutional expositions of the Constitution which I am sworn to 
support — because they require me to promote disunion — because 
they are copied from resolutions hatched for great mischief, which 
I have a right to oppose, and did oppose in my place as Senator 
in the Senate of the United States, and which I cannot cease to 
oppose without personal disgrace and official dereliction of public 
duty — and because I think it due to the people to give them an 
opportunity to consider proceedings so gravely affecting them, and 
on which they have not been consulted. 

"I appeal to the people — and the whole body of the people. 
It is a question above party, and should be kept above it. I mean 
to keep it there." 48 

47 Referring to the Resolutions passed on the fifteenth of February, 
1847, already quoted. "How different — how irreconcilably hostile to each 
other — the two sets of resolutions! One makes the peace, permanency, 
and the welfare of our national Union, dependent upon the strict adherence 
to the spirit and terms of the Missouri Compromise, in its application to 
new territory — that is to say, upon the constitutional right, and the equita- 
ble exercise of that right, to legislate upon Slavery in the new territory, 
and to admit it in part, and prevent it in part; the other makes the dissolu- 
tion of the Union dependent upon the same platform of fact and principle 
— denying the right of Congress to permit or prohibit slavery in a 
territory — asserting its prohibition to be a violation of the Constitution of 
the United States — an insult to the sovereignty of the States — and tending 
to the dissolution of the Union. Sad contradiction this, when the same 
remedy is both to cure and to kill ! and although the political doctors may 
prescribe both, yet, surely, the political patient who has taken one, has a 
right to talk a little with the doctors before he swallows the other." 

48 The following occurs in an editorial review of Benton's Jefferson 
City speech in the Western Eagle, June 1, 1849: "This speech 
fully defines Benton's position upon the question of slavery in the terri- 
tories and those who hesitated to pronounce sentence upon him until they 
heard his defence, may now be assured that he is utterly and altogether 
in favor of Wilmot's Proviso and contends that Congress has the power 
and should exercise it in prohibiting the introduction of slavery into all 
of the territory acquired from Mexico. Can Wilmot or any Northern 
Barnburner do more? The Colonel, conscious of the indignation he must 



This appeal from the legislative instructions 
Senator Benton immediately followed up with a can- 
vass of the State conducted with characteristic energy 
and aggressiveness. Over the entire State he went, 49 
even invading the western counties where his ene- 

encounter from the people of Missouri for deserting their interests at a 
crisis when his assistance is most needed, uses much tact and adroitness 
in endeavoring to avert the well-merited rebuke which he will receive, 
by directing the attention of the people to the course of Mr. Calhoun, the 
action of public meetings and several legislatures in the Southern States. 
Calhoun appears to be an evil genius that seems to haunt him both by 

day and night Are the people of Missouri so completely bound 

hand and foot to the car of Benton, that they will suffer themselves to be 
dragged into such doctrines? Are the dominant party of this State, who 
have hitherto acknowledged this man to be their leader, so completely 
under his control that they are bound to obey all his behests, 'to turn about 
and jump about' as he may command them? The resolutions in to-day's 
paper show so far as this part of the State is concerned, 'that the scepter 
has departed from Judah,' and the friends of the great Humbug are 
becoming few and far between " 

The resolutions mentioned in the last sentence were adopted at a 
meeting held at Jackson, Missouri, May 26, 1849, "with regard to the 
propriety of agitating the question of Wilmot's Proviso or Barnburnerism 
in this county or in this part of the State." The resolutions endorsed the 
Jackson legislative Resolutions, and included the following: "Resolved, 
That we receive the appeal of Thomas H. Benton from the Resolutions 
of the last Legislature .... with mortification, astonishment, and as 
unprecedented: that we believe it the duty of the Representatives to obey 
the instructions of their constituents; and that the Legislature is the only 
legitimate organ through which the people of the State can speak to or 
communicate with their Senators in the National Legislature. That we 
shall postpone any further consideration of said appeal to some further 

"Resolved, That we cordially approve of the course of the Hon. David 
R. Atchison on the slavery question, and for his having united in the 
spirited and patriotic appeal of the convention of Southern members of 
Congress to their constituents — eloquently warning them against abolition 
encroachments, and defending their inalienable constitutional rights." 

One resolution invited Benton to visit that section of the State and 
defend or explain his appeal, an invitation which he accepted on Nov. 7, 
1849. For the comment of the St. Louis Union, a staunch Benton organ, 
upon Benton's speech, see the Western Eagle, June 8, 1849. 

4 9The itinerary of Senator Benton on this canvass, so far as I have 


mies were most numerous and most desperate. Ben- 
ton's speeches on this tour were substantial repeti- 
tions of the Jefferson City speech. His opinions 
were expressed in language most unrestrained. On 
at least one occasion his vehement personal denun- 
ciation of a supporter of the Jackson Resolutions in 
the audience threatened serious disorder. 50 As the 
canvass progressed Benton's utterances became more 
and more bitter and polemical. There lurked in 
the Jackson Resolutions, he reiterated, "the spirit of 
nullification," of "insubordination to law," and of 
"treason." 51 Again and again he denounced them 
as "entertaining the covert purpose of disrupting the 

been able to discover it, was as follows: on June 9 he spoke at Columbia; 
June 16, at Liberty; June 18, at Platte City; July 16, at Liberty; August 
9, at St. Joseph; Sept. 1, at Fayette; October 17, at St. Louis; November 5, 
at Ste. Genevieve; November 6, at Perryville; and November 7, at Jackson. 
SO At Platte City, June 18, 1849. William M. Paxton, Esq., was present 
and thus describes what took place: "In his circuit of the State, Benton 

appeared at Platte City. A stand had been erected The town was 

full of people opposed to Benton. At the stand there were only two or three 
hundred. Representative Wilkerson, who had voted for the resolutions, took 
a prominent place immediately in front of the speaker. I was reclining 
on the grass in the rear, conversing with Col. J. W. Reid, who had just 
returned from the Mexican War. Suddenly Benton's voice rose to its 
highest pitch, and Col. Reid instantly sprang to his feet and dashed to the 
stand. I followed and found him standing at Benton's side, with two 
revolvers in hand, and two more at his sides. Wilkerson having pro- 
nounced some statement of Benton's a 'lie,' the latter was pouring bitter 
denunciation on the treasonable Legislature, and pointing the finger of 
scorn and the voice of imprecation upon the pale and crouching form of 
Wilkerson. Benton was severe in his denunciation of Judge Birch, and 
brought charges for which a suit of slander was instituted, but which 
never came to trial." — Paxton's Annals, 117. See also Benton's speech at 
Fayette, Sept. 1, 1849. 

51 "The Resolutions, taken altogether, are false in their facts, incen- 
diary in their temper, disunion in their object, nullification in their essence, 

high treason in their remedy, and usurpation in their character " 

Benton at Fayette, Sept. 1, 1849. 


national Union and of misleading the people of Mis- 
souri into cooperation with the slaveholding States 
for that purpose." Not content with condemning 
the Resolutions themselves, Benton assailed their au- 
thors with the bitterest diatribe and most vehement 
invective, mingled and interspersed liberally with 
profanity; in all of which arts of the western stump 
orator Benton was past master. These speeches, cir- 
culated in pamphlet form, "set the State ablaze" as 
had no other event in its history. 52 From this time 
until after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill 
in 1854, the Jackson Resolutions and Benton's "Ap- 
peal" constituted the platforms or rallying points of 
the radical and conservative Democrats in Missouri 
respectively who henceforth are usually denominated 
Bentonites and anti-Bentonites. 53 

52 Switzler's Missouri, 269; Carr's Missouri, 225 ff . ; Meigs's Benton, 
413. For a good example of Benton's style, see the closing remarks of his 
Fayette speech. Of his speech at St. Louis on Oct. 17, the Western Eagle 
said (Oct. 26, 1849) : "The speech of Col. Benton at St. Louis lately was 
of that coarse, bitter and denunciatory character which has exhibited itself 
in all his speeches throughout the State. His abuse of J. C. Calhoun and 
his denunciation of all those opposed to him, show plainly that his equa- 
nimity has been disturbed. The dignity of the Senator has been thrown 
aside, and the tyrannical, bullying disposition of the man has fairly 
developed itself " 

53 On Aug. 20, 1853, when the fight between Benton and Atchison was 
at its height, the following appeared in an editorial of the Jefferson In- 
quirer: " . . . . The original cause of the division in this State was 
the passing of the so-called Jackson Resolutions and the sale of Col. Benton 

out of the Senate of the United States The Jackson nullifying 

resolutions were gotten up for this purpose [ousting Benton] and every 
Democrat who would not join in the crusade against Missouri's beloved 

Statesman, was denounced as a freesoil traitor, etc We have our 

terms of compromise and shall adhere to them until they are complied with. 
.... These terms are: the reelection of Col. Benton to the Senate of 
the United States, from which he was sold by a few traitors in the Dem- 
ocratic party, and the repeal of the Jackson nullifying resolutions." The 
italics are mine. 


Missouri Politics, 1844-1852 ( continued)-] ames $>. Green's Re- 
ply to Benton's "Appeal" -Benton's Election to the House in 

In public addresses and letters, men of great 
ability denied the soundness of Benton's views, de- 
nounced his course in refusing to obey the instructions 
of the Legislature, and justified their own. Among 
these public and outspoken critics 54 of Benton, none 
were more conspicuous than David R. Atchison and 
James S. Green. Atchison was Benton's colleague 
in the Senate, having been reelected for the full 
term by the General Assembly which had passed 
the Jackson Resolutions. Green was a brilliant 

54 As early as the first of July, 1849, the following Democratic news- 
papers, and perhaps others, were actively opposed to Benton: the Metro- 
politan, at Jefferson City; the Platte Argus, at Platte City; the Missouri 
Courier, the Southern Standard, the Fayette Democrat, the Howard 
County Banner, the Northeastern Reporter, the Louisiana (Mo.) Banner, 
and Grand River Chronicle. The principal papers supporting Benton were 
the St. Louis Union, and the Jefferson Inquirer. The Whig press was 
on the whole anti-Benton. In this connection see the Western Eagle, July 

6, 1849. y 

Both Benton and Judge Birch (anti) spoke at Liberty, July 16, 1849. 
Resolutions were adopted declaring in substance that Benton was bound 
in honor to himself and duty to the State either to obey the instructions of 
the Legislature or to resign. The resolutions also declared implicit con- 
fidence in the ability, integrity and correct principles of Senator Atchison. — 
The Western Eagle, July 27, 1849. 

I have been able to discover very little definite information concern- 
ing the activities of the anti-Benton leaders in this campaign. 


young lawyer of St. Louis, a member of the House of 
Representatives, and destined, in 1857, to succeed 
Atchison in the Senate of the United States. Both 
Atchison and Green wrote letters designed for pub- 
lication in which they set forth at great length their 
position upon the issues raised by the Resolutions 
and Benton's appeal. Mr. Green wrote probably 
the ablest reply to Benton and made the most adroit 
attack of the campaign upon Benton's attitude to- 
ward the subject of Slavery. 55 

Green's letter, 56 dated Washington, D. C., De- 

55 Respecting the importance of Green in the war against Benton, 
James G. Blaine said: "Green had done more than any other man in 
Missouri to break the power of Thomas H. Benton as a leader of the 
Democracy. His arraignment of Benton before the people of Missouri in 
1849, when he was but thirty-two years of age, was one of the most 
aggressive and successful warfares in our political annals." — Twenty Years 
of Congress, i, 273. I have been able to discover very little evidence 
other than the letter mentioned above which justifies this high estimate of 
Green's efforts against Benton. 

I have also been unable to discover a copy of the letter which Atchison 
wrote. Its existence is mentioned, and a paragraph from it is quoted 
by the Jefferson Inquirer, May 21, 1853. The following, occuring in the 
Western Eagle, may be an allusion to this letter: 

"The Hon. David R. Atchison, U. S. Senator from this State, has pub- 
lished a reply to certain resolutions adopted at a meeting held in Platte 
City, June 4th, 1849, in which he defends his course in acting last winter 
with the Southern members of Congress in signing the address which 
they adopted; he also fully coincides with the Jackson Resolutions adopted 
by the Legislature at its last session and promises implicit obedience 

to the instructions which they contain His position [upon 

the Wilmot Proviso] is exactly opposite to that of Benton " July 

6, 1849. 

"He [Atchison] was the only Senator from Missouri during Benton's 
service who dared set himself up in opposition to Benton. In the division 
of the Democratic party in Missouri which came soon after the Mexican 
War, Atchison led the pro-slavery and pro-Southern element as against 
the old Jacksonian and Unionist ingredient which had Benton for a 
chieftain." — Goodspeed, iv, 82. 

56 Letter of James S. Green of Missouri to Messrs. John S. Farish, 


cember 10, 1849, opens with a discussion and em- 
phatic endorsement of the right of State Legislatures 
to instruct Senators in Congress. , Benton's course 
in refusing obedience, amounting to "a practical 
abandonment of the doctrine of instruction," 57 is 
then taken up for the purpose of discrediting the 
Senator in the eyes of the Missouri Democracy. 
The writer then endeavors to show that the Jackson 
Resolutions, literally interpreted, imposed no obli- 
gations with which a person holding Colonel Ben- 
ton's views of the power of Congress over slavery in 
the Territories could not consistently comply. 58 

John W. Minor, Thomas Roberts, Wesley Burks, and others, citizens of 
Schuyler County, Mo. A copy of this letter in pamphlet form is in the 
possession of the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis. 

57 "Colonel Benton's appeal, and present course, amount to a practical 
abandonment of the doctrine of instruction; and for that reason, if for no 
other, I could not approbate his conduct. True, he does not in so many 
words deny the right of the Legislature to instruct the Senators; but while 
he admits this, he does that which, for all practical purposes, renders the 
right of instruction of no effect. By his 'appeal' he designs to overreach 
and supersede the expressed will of the legislative authority. He substi- 
tutes what he may choose to consider the sentiments of tumultuous crowds, 
for the declared will of the people, as expressed through their only con- 
stitutional organ. And in his strange proceedings he constitutes himself 
not only the appellant, and advocate, but also the judge in his own case, 
and we therefore may expect him to decide according to his own inclination. 
. . . ." Green's Letter. 

53 "And it is worthy of notice that our resolutions of instruction do not 
require of Colonel Benton any vote, or any act, which can conflict with 
his declared opinions of the Constitution on the subject of slavery. They 
simply instruct him to vote for the extension of the Missouri Compromise 
line to the Pacific Ocean, if thereby this difficult controversy can be settled; 
or, if that cannot be done, then to vote against any other interference with 
the subject. He claims full constitutional power to legislate as Congress 
may please over the subject of slavery in the Territories; and surely to 
obey the instructions, and vote against all interference, unless the Missouri 
Compromise can be obtained, cannot involve a violation of the Constitution, 
according to his own construction of that instrument. The Senator is not 



Benton's charge that the Resolutions were forced 
through the Legislature by fraud and deception is 
next taken up, 59 and then Mr. Green proceeds to 
impeach Senator Benton's "soundness" upon the slav- 
ery issue, and especially with reference to the Wil- 
mot Proviso. This is the most significant part of 

called upon to mould his opinions in conformity to the language of the 
instructions; but he is required to do the acts commanded. The acts re- 
quired by our resolutions are all of a negative character except the exten- 
sion of the Compromise line, and to that Colonel Benton pretends to take 
no exception. Voting in the negative — voting against the Wilmot Proviso, 
and voting against all bills interfering with slavery, cannot violate the 
Constitution; and that is precisely what the Senator is commanded to do. 
No reason, therefore, can be found to exonerate him from strict obedience 
of the legislative instructions." 

59 "But as an excuse for disregarding the instructions, it is said they 
passed by fraud, after being concocted by a band of conspirators, whose 
motives were base, selfish, and personal. 

"This has been repeated so often, and with so much boldness and 
effrontery, that many good men have been led to believe in it, although, 
for myself, I have not seen or heard the first particle of evidence tending 
in any degree to sustain the charge. To me, it looks like adding insult 
to injury. Not content with trampling on the authority of the State, the 
next step is to tarnish her reputation. The charge, however, is but a 
pretext — an unsupported, flimsy pretext, designed to deceive the people, 
and thereby mitigate, if not conceal, the offence of disobedience. They 
were passed on the seventh of March, last, and intended to control the 
Senators at the subsequent sessions of Congress; just like the instructions 
for the railroad, and many others which have passed since the organization 
of our Government. And whether they were conceived by one man or 
another; whether they were written by one member, or a dozen others 
in conjunction with him, are questions wholly irrelevant and immaterial. 
When they were written and laid before the two Houses of the General 
Assembly, they were seen, examined, and approved, by a large majority of 
each House, and passed in strict conformity to the letter and spirit of the 
Constitution. Then they became the act of the Legislature, and so they 
will ever remain, though subject to repeal by a subsequent act equally 
solemn. And at this moment of time, notwithstanding all that has been 
said against them, a majority of the members yet approve them, and, if 
now in session, would reenact them to-day; and this fact disproves the 
charge that they were passed by fraud and deception upon the mem- 
bers " 


the letter. "Our Resolutions of instruction," wrote 
Green, "seem to have been drawn with the special 
intention to condemn the Wilmot Proviso, 6 ® and all 
measures of a kindred nature." Senator Benton's 
opposition to these Resolutions has induced the writ- 
er to believe that Benton is "really in favor of that 
fanatical and treacherous measure." "His recent 
speeches and conduct afford strong corroborative evi- 
dence of the same fact." 61 Continuing in this line of 
attack, Green goes on to say: 

"On questions so vital, so momentous as this, it is certainly 
important that the people should know precisely, without doubt 
or ambiguity, the opinions of their public servants. How else 
can they expect to be faithfully and truly represented? Colonel 
Benton has been asked frequently by his constituents for his opin- 
ions on the subject, and he has never answered any one so as to 
make himself understood; nor would he give them the least satis- 
faction. He replied, '/ make no pledges — / give no bonds? and 
in no instance would he answer whether he was for or against Free 
SoilisTn. Now, I believe from the facts above given, together 
with various others, that he is as much a Free Soiler as David 
Wilmot; but yet there are many good and worthy citizens of 
our State who think he is against Free Soilism, and would aban- 
don him in an instant if they believed he would favor that odious 
and dangerous scheme. To my certain knowledge some of his 
friends consider him committed for the Proviso, and others con- 
sider him against it. One or the other of these must be deceived 
— one or the other must be disappointed. In such case, neither 

60 The italics are mine. 

61 Numerous passages from Benton's speeches are then cited in support 
of this statement, after which Mr. Green launched into a long argument 
against the Proviso. 

Beginning with the campaign of 1849, it will be observed that the 
assaults upon Benton are concentrated upon his position toward the Proviso, 
as in 1844 they had been directed against his position upon the Texas 


one should repose any confidence in the man, who knowingly and 
wilfully practices such duplicity and double-dealing as must even- 
tuate in the disappointment of one or both; and no man can tell 
but that he himself may be the sufferer " 62 

The letter closed with a brief allusion to public 
sentiment in Missouri toward the Wilmot Proviso, 
and to the character of the canvass conducted by- 
Colonel Benton during the preceding summer and 

"The sentiments here advanced are such as I have long 
entertained, and have repeatedly declared to my constituents dur- 
ing the last summer and fall, in compliance with the requests 
of those to whom I am responsible for my political action. 
Throughout the district I have found the citizens nearly unani- 
mous in favor of the same opinions — all, or nearly all, being 
opposed to the proviso, and in favor of non-interference, leaving 
the question of slavery unaffected by Congressional action, which 
is the only national doctrine upon which all sections of the Union 
may unite, and settle, to the satisfaction of all concerned, this 
unfortunate controversy. I am aware that some of my friends 
thought my language last fall savored too much of hostility to 
Colonel Benton. It may have seemed so to one not acquainted 
with the circumstances demanding it; but a full knowledge of 
these will at least extenuate, if not completely justify me for every 
word I uttered. Not a single disrespectful term was applied by 
me to Colonel Benton, until his hostility had provoked it in self- 
defense. But when he threatened to 'crush' me, and 'grind me to 

62 The following is taken from an anonymous pamphlet entitled, A 
Statement of Facts and a Few Suggestions in Review of Political Action 
in Missouri, published in 1856, and found in bound volume of pamphlets 
belonging to the Missouri Historical Society: "Instead of yielding obedi- 
ence to those instructions, Colonel Benton denounced them in the most un- 
sparing terms, and commenced, in the year 1849, tne organization of a 
separate faction in Missouri, taking as its shibboleth, that Congress had a 
right to pass the Wilmot Proviso, and exclude slavery from the Territories. 
He made many speeches in different parts of the State, and published manv 
letters, urging all who agreed with him to aid, in his own language, in 


dust' and otherwise outraged my feelings without just cause, in 
the excitement naturally produced I departed from my usual 
conduct, and in acrimonious retort indulged in language which 
may have been too harsh and improper. In no instance, however, 
did I go further than the example he had given me " 

That the campaign of 1849 in Missouri was not 
only one of extraordinary interest and excitement 
but also exceedingly acrimonious appears more clear- 
ly from a letter written by Adam Klippel, 63 a strong 
Benton sympathizer, to Hon. Salmon P. Chase while 
the canvass was at its height. The letter was dated 
St. Joseph, Missouri, September 14, 1849, and in 
it occurs the following brief but vivid and circum- 
stantial account of the agitation and acrimony at- 
tending this remarkable campaign: 

"Dear Sir: You are no doubt aware of the excitement and 
agitation in Missouri on the slavery question, and the extraor- 
dinary exertions now going on to defeat Col. Benton's reelection 

'building a high wall and digging a deep ditch, socially and politically,' 
between them and the Democracy of the State. That separate organization 
under his championship, had for its most efficient leaders those of his con- 
fidential friends who, in 1848, had inaugurated in Missouri a Van Buren 
and Adams movement against Cass and Butler. That movement proved an 
utter failure. Colonel Benton was not directly identified with it. Still, as 
his course from 1844, and his failure to denounce or attempt to repress 
that scheme, left it uncertain to what extent his confidential friends, who 
were engaged in it, had acted under his sanction, the doubts and distrusts 
as to his fidelity, which had largely prevailed before, became then so 
greatly increased, that many who had, up to that period, clung with un- 
yielding confidence to him, began to entertain serious misgivings as to his 

political faith " This pamphlet is hereafter cited as Rev. Pol. 


63 At the time of writing this letter, Klippel was a printer. Later 
he became a clergyman in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and an editor. 
In i860 he took the stump with Carl Schurz in Missouri in behalf of 
Lincoln. — "Diary and Correspondence of S. P. Chase," in Am. Hist. Assn., 
Report, 1902, ii, 470, citing U. S. Biographical Dictionary (Missouri vol- 
ume). For the letter quoted in the text, see ibid., 470 ff. 


to the Senate Believe me, sir, the excitement prevalent 

in this State at this moment, is fully equal to a Presidential cam- 
paign, such as we have seen in Ohio last summer and fall. Every- 
where Benton's appeal, his course, slavery in the territories, 
abolitionism, &c, &c, are discussed and talked over most lively. 
And Mr. Benton is travelling over the State making speeches to 
the people, and at every place he goes immense numbers are 
present to hear. Mr. Benton spoke in this town on the 9th of 
August, to a very large concourse of people — about 1 500 per- 
sons I was afraid Mr. Benton would commit a blunder, 

as his mind was very much excited. A little previous to making 
his speech, he was arrested for slander. Judge James H. Birch — 
who .... is following Benton wherever he goes, making opposi- 
tion speeches — was the man that sued Benton, for accusing the 
Judge of whipping his wife. 64 

"Judge Birch spoke here last Saturday (Sept. 8) together 
with our own Representative in Congress — Willard P. Hall, 
the latter taking only a milder ground of opposition to Mr. Ben- 
ton. Every disguise, as to the intention of these men towards 
Benton, is done away. They openly declare that they 'are deter- 
mined to pat down BentonV All the judges, more or less, in 
Missouri are out against Benton: and Mr. Benton in return 
comes down upon them in no unqualified terms — calling them 
nullifiers, disunionists, &c. I am sorry Mr. Benton indulges so 
much in profanity. It looks certainly very bad, especially so in a 
Statesman. He curses the judges personally, and everybody else 
that disagrees with him. Yet in this respect his opponents — 
Atchison and all his followers, the judges — are not a whit be- 
hind. Nine out of twenty-two democratic papers in the State, 
it appears, are out against Benton, and are unbounded in villify- 
ing him, and such epithets as 'traitor,' 'Apostate,' 'Scoundrel,' 
'Barnburner,' 'Abolitionist,' 'Free Soiler,' are continually heaped 
upon him unsparingly. At the head of these stands the Jefferson 

City 'Metropolitan' — a miserable sheet I am afraid 

Benton will be defeated. The people of Missouri, however, so far 
as I have been able to see will sustain Col. Benton. But notwith- 

64 See note on a preceding page, quoting Paxton's Annals, 117. 


standing this, I am afraid — very much afraid — our General As- 
sembly will drop Benton, 65 and send in his place another such a 
dough-head and Slavery-Propagandist as General Atchison, who 
is also now canvassing the State against Benton " 66 

The effect of Benton's appeal and the canvass 
which ensued, was, in the words of another contem- 
porary, to "stir popular feeling from its profoundest 
depth." 67 Benton's appeal assumed the character of 
a test. Upon it and upon the Jackson Resolutions, 
including the subject of slavery in the Territories, it 
"became obligatory for every one to give an opinion 
who was a solicitor for public favor." 68 Political 
friends "completely separated" upon the Resolutions, 
and were "widely diversified in sentiment about their 
construction." 69 Democratic candidates for Con- 
gress found it necessary to write circular letters to 

65 Calhoun wrote to Thomas G. Clemson, Aug. 24, 1849: ". . . . 
Benton and Clay are both playing for the North. I enclose in pamphlet 

form my notice of his assault on me It is, so far as I have heard, 

regarded as triumphant. It is said, that he will not be able to sustain 
himself in Missouri. His colleague, Gen. Atchison, says he has no chance 
to be reelected." — Calhoun's "Correspondence" in Am. Hist. Assn., Re- 
port, 1899, ii, 771. 

In the same month Calhoun wrote to A. W. Venable: "I hear from 
Missouri, that Benton's days are numbered. Atcheson and Green say, that 
he has as good a chance to be made Pope, as to be elected Senator." — Ibid., 
770; also, ibid., 1204. See also the Western Eagle, Jan. 11 and June 
21, 1850. 

66 1 have not been able to learn the itinerary of either Atchison or 
Birch. Atchison spoke in St. Joseph the latter part of September and 
in Jackson in the same month probably. See the Western Eagle, Aug. 
31, 1849. 

67 Col. William F. Switzler of Columbia, Mo. 

68 Circular of Mr. James S. Bovulin to his Constituents, the Voters of 
the First Congressional District in Missouri (1850) ; a pamphlet belonging 
to the Missouri Historical Society. 

69 Ibid. 


their constituents in which they carefully defined 
their position upon the burning issues of the day. 
"These resolutions," wrote one candidate for Con- 
gress, 70 "have been so much discussed, so critically 
reviewed, so wildly denounced, and so warmly eulo- 
gized, that it becomes almost impossible to divest 
the mind of the over-heightened colorings that have 
been thrown around them, and subject them to a 
calm, philosophic review." 71 

This political ferment was not confined to the 
ranks of the Democratic party: it affected the Whigs 
also. Their attitude throughout the campaign of 
1 849- 1 850 is well described by Colonel Switzler, 
himself a contemporary Whig: 72 

"The Whigs, at all times a minority in the State, claimed 
to occupy a position of 'armed neutrality' touching the distracting 
questions which threatened the unity and power, if not the very 
existence of their Democratic opponents. It is not to be denied, 
however, that quite naturally, they sought to foment the pre- 
vailing discord, and in reference to the Jackson Resolutions them- 
selves, sympathized with Colonel Benton. 73 Their representa- 

70 Mr. Bowlin, ibid. Mr. Bowlin at first tried to maintain a neutral 
attitude, but was soon forced to take sides, and then came out against 

71 There is an echo of this storm and stress period in the pro- 
ceedings of Congress which met in December, 1849, in connection with 
the presentation of the Jackson Resolutions in the Senate by Mr. Atchison 
on the third of January, 1850; Cong. Globe, xxi, Pt. i, 98; Senate Journal, 
1st Sess., 31st Cong., 48. Benton's remarks on this occasion are reproduced 
in another connection in Thirty Years' View, ii, 361-362. The Resolutions 
were presented to the House by Mr. Green, Dec. 31, 1849; House 
Journal, 1st Sess., 31st Cong., 203. 

7- History of Missouri, 272. 

73 This may be true in general, but there were numerous exceptions. 
For example, the Western Eagle endorsed the substance of the Resolutions, 
but repudiated the idea of nullification or secession. The Whigs naturally 


tives in both branches of the General Assembly had opposed them 
by speech and vote at the time of their adoption, and for similar 
reasons to those afterwards presented by Colonel Benton in his 
warfare upon them." By the time it became necessary to elect 
a successor to Benton in 1850, "the Whigs themselves were to 
some extent divided into Benton and anti-Benton Whigs, desig- 
nations which attached to the one segment or the other according 
to the intensity of its pro-slavery or anti-slavery sentiments." 

Very little evidence has been found which in- 
dicates clearly what the leaders and lieutenants of 
the two great factions in the Missouri Democracy 
did in the spring and summer of 1850. Apparently 
the State's two Senators, Benton and Atchison, were 
fully occupied with the absorbing topics then en- 
grossing the attention not only of Congress but of the 
whole country. We read of few speeches in Mis- 
souri : in fact, few were needed, for the issues had all 
been clearly defined during the exciting contest of 
the year preceding. 

In August were to be elected members of the 

availed themselves of the disaffection in the Democratic ranks to conduct 
a State and Congressional campaign of unusual vigor in 1850. See the 
Western Eagle, Aug. 17, 1849, Mar. 29, June 28, July 19, Aug. 2, and Aug. 
23, 1850. As early as the first of April, 1850, the possibility of bringing 
about the election of a Whig to the Senate was perceived and urged 
in the Whig press. See a communication from "A New Madrid Whig" in 
the Western Eagle, April 12, 1850. 

This Whig organ was particularly severe in its condemnation of 
Benton for his neglect to secure appropriations from the Federal Govern- 
ment for internal improvements within the State of Missouri. Atchison 
is similarly criticised. One editorial on this subject was called forth by 
the statement of the Washington correspondent of the St. Louis Intelli- 
gencer to the effect that the act granting alternate sections of land to aid 
the Illinois Central Railroad, "may be attributed mainly to the exertions 
of Col. Benton, the Missouri Senator." In view of Benton's "total neglect" 
of the railroad interests of his own State, the editor regarded Benton's "mag- 
nanimity" in this direction as "supererogatory." — Issue of May 24, 1850. 


General Assembly which would choose a successor 
to Senator Benton. That individual, on the whole, 
appears to have viewed the situation with far too 
great equanimity, apparently overestimating his in- 
fluence and the strength of his following. Often he 
refused in a decidedly cavalier fashion requests from 
his constituents to appear before them and speak up- 
on the issues. 74 

Some attempt seems to have been made to heal 
the schism caused by the Jackson Resolutions and 
Benton's appeal. Overtures were made by the 
Antis to the Bentonites looking toward a united 
Democratic ticket in the August campaign. This 
prospect of reconciliation was swept away by a 
spirited letter from Senator Benton, dated Washing- 
ton City, March 8, 1850: 75 

"I have had a great many letters from friends in different 
parts of the State, in relation to a union with the Calhounites 
in the ensuing elections; such letters are very mortifying to me — 
too much so to be answered. I was sounded upon the point last 
summer when the articles were going through the Calhoun papers, 
for a general convention of the party, as it was called, to meet 
and settle all differences. I answered instantly and truly, that 
I would sooner sit in council with the six thousand dead, who 
have died of cholera in St. Louis, than to go into convention with 
such a gang of scamps; and that is my sentiment to-day. There 
is but one principle on which the Democrats and the Calhounites 
can meet in any election, and that is one which Calhoun said held 
the party together, 'the cohesive bond of public plunder.' That 
may be true of him and his, but it is not true of me and mine: 

74 Rogers's Benton, 313. Benton spoke in St. Louis, Nov. 9, 1850. 
This is the only speech of his in the campaign of 1850 of which I have 
found a summary. 

75 The name of the person to whom this letter was addressed is not 
given in the Western Eagle, April 15, 1850, where the letter is printed. 


and I will prove it during these elections, by standing clear of 
all connections with them. I will not mix with them nor give, 
nor take help. Let them have their own ticket and we ours. 
Let us have a clean Democratic ticket — no taint of Calhounism, 
i.e. secession, disunion, nullification, in it. Let them have their 
own ticket, and elect it if they can; or defeat ours if they can. 
The point is to defeat them. The public good requires it; the 
harmony and the preservation of the Union require it. The Mis- 
souri elections this year are a turning point in the drama of 
disunion. The disunionists count upon Missouri. They believe 
they have the State, and that belief emboldens them in the highest 
degree; success in one election will confirm that belief. The 
election of Calhoun men will confirm it; therefore they must be 
defeated and if confined to their own ticket they will be defeated. 
City and County, State and Federal, Congressional and all, they 
should be put to their own ticket, 76 and be made to congregate 
by themselves ; we shall be stronger when they are gone ; and what 
is more, we shall be clean — no timid or selfish calculations about 
losing elections; we may lose some few, but still the great point 
will be gained, Calhounites will be put down, and even the election 
of Whigs will be a triumph over them — a victory in behalf of 
the Union — and that is the overruling consideration at present. 
Fear of seeing Whigs elected can have no effect upon me under 
present circumstances — not even a fear of seeing a Whig elected 
in my own place. I am for the country and for the Union, and - 
the country and the Union require Calhounism to be extinguished 
in Missouri, and I am for the extermination as courageously as 
the Calhounites are for dissolution of the Union, 'at all hazards 
and without regard to consequences.' 

"People ask me here why I do not speak? I tell them, when 
I was at the Bar, I never interrupted my adversary's counsel while 
he was proving up my case for me. 

"This letter is not for publication, but it is not for conceal- 
ment. Friends may see it." 

When the returns from the August elections 

76 This was substantially the course pursued in the campaign of 1850. 


were all in, it was evident that the newly elected 
Legislature would be divided into three factions, 
Bentonites, anti-Bentonites and Whigs, in such a 
way that no one faction could command the majority 
necessary to effect the election of a Senator. 77 

The General Assembly convened December 
30. The caucus of Bentonites sent a message to 
the anti-Benton caucus inquiring if they would join 
with the Bentonites for the purpose of effecting an 
organization of the Legislature. To this message the 
Antis replied in a resolution which stated that "when- 

77 In commenting upon the result of the August elections, the Western 
Eagle (Aug. 9, 1850) said editorially: — ". . . . Freesoilism is prostrate 
in Missouri, and for one, we do most heartily rejoice. The reign of Benton 
is at an end; and it is a consummation for which we have arduously la- 
bored and most devoutly wished. The people on Monday last gave him his 
quietus, and his odious principles a 'Sadducee burial.' . . . Rejoice, inde- 
dependent Democrats for you have overcome a political tyrant! Let the 
whole people of Missouri rejoice, for they have rid themselves of one who 
has always been a curse to their prosperity." 

The Washington correspondent of the Baltimore Clipper, writing 
Aug. 6, 1850, made the suggestion that in view of his recent defeat in the 
Missouri elections, Benton "will go to California and seek to be returned 
as a Senator from that State." — Quoted in the Western Eagle, Aug. 
16, 1850. 

The interpretation which Benton placed upon the result of the elections 
is represented by the Western Eagle (Nov. 15, 1850) in a review of Ben- 
ton's speech at St. Louis, Nov. 9, 1850 (I have been unable to find the 
speech itself): ". . . . The Colonel contends that his appeal from the 
resolutions of instruction .... has been sustained by the people and that 
he has no farther interest in the contest, than to see execution done on the 
condemned resolutions. We will use his own words — 'all my objects 
have been accomplished. The people of Missouri were waked up to a 
sense of their danger! The whole Union was waked up to the danger of 
disunion. My appeal — my six months speaking to the people of Missouri 
waked up the State and all the States! What would have been the condi- 
tion of the country, if I had not made the stand I did?' Well, who did 
kill cock robin? I, says Benton, with my six months speeches!" [delivered 
in 1849]. 


ever the Benton Democracy shall abandon Colonel 
Benton as their candidate for United States Senator 
and their support of his 'Appeal' from the instruc- 
tions of the last General Assembly of Missouri, and 
the principles maintained by him relative to the 
subject of slavery, then this meeting will with great 
pleasure join all Democrats in carrying out the great 
fundamental principles of the Democratic party, as 
set forth in the Baltimore platform of 1844 and 1848, 
provided they recognize the rights of instruction by 
the Legislature to their Senators in Congress." 78 
With such terms, amounting to a complete surrender 
of their position, the Benton men could not of course 
comply. 79 

The joint sessions of the two Houses for the pur- 
pose of electing a Senator began on the tenth of Jan- 
uary, 1 85 1, and continued to be held from day to day 
until the twenty-second. On the eleventh, Mr. Hill, 
a member of the House, offered in joint session the 
following resolution: 

"Resolved, That the one-half of the State of Missouri is 
now misrepresented in the person of Thomas H. Benton in the 
United States Senate, and that the two Houses, now in joint 
session will not adjourn except as may suit their convenience until 
a United States Senator who will reflect the true interests of the 
State shall have been elected, or until the 5th day of March, 
next." 80 

78 The Western Eagle, Jan. 3, 1851. Telegraphic accounts of legis- 
lative proceedings appeared regularly in this paper beginning with this 

79 See also in this connection Reports of House and Senate Committees 
on Federal Relations, in Missouri House Journal, 1850-51, Appendix, 239, 
and Missouri Senate Journal, 1850-51, Appendix, 249. 

80 Missouri Senate Journal, 1850-51, 88. See also the report of the 


The resolution was laid upon the table, but it is 
significant of the animus of the anti-Benton mem- 
bers, and the resolute determination of some to com- 
pass the defeat of Benton at any price. 

"The war of the factions raged furiously," 
writes a contemporary Whig, "each 'wing' of the 
Democratic party preferring the success of the 
Whigs to the success of the opposing division of their 
own party. Finally .... a portion of the line of 
each of the opposing forces gave way, and victory 
perched upon the banner of the Whigs." 81 On the 
. fortieth ballot, Henry S. Geyer, a lawyer of eminent 
ability residing in St. Louis, was elected for the term 
of six years beginning March 4, 1851. On that 
date Thomas H. Benton, after a period of thirty 
years' service, ceased to be a Senator of the United 

According to the calculation of his enemies, 
Benton should have retired from political life after 
his defeat; 82 but they had reckoned without their 

House Committee on Federal Relations, in Missouri House Journal, 1850- 
5/, Appendix, 239 ff. 

81 Switzler's Missouri, 273. The break in the Democratic ranks began 
about the sixteenth of January, and seems to have come from the anti- 
Benton side. On that day the following despatch was sent to the Western 
Eagle: "To-day has been the most exciting day of the session. Several 
of the anti-Benton members avowed their intention to vote for H. S. 
Geyer. Mr. Stewart in particular made a speech expressing his deter- 
mination to do so. In his remarks he stated that his object was to defeat 
Colonel Benton, and he infinitely preferred a Whig of sound sentiments, 
like H. S. Geyer, to Benton. He said that if he were compelled to vote 
for either Seward or Benton, he would cast his vote for the former, for 
he was an avowed Abolitionist, while the latter was an Abolitionist in 
disguise — not from principle but from policy." — Issue of Jan. 17, 1851. 

82 Statement of Judge William C Price, reported to me by Mr. 


host. A Benton temporarily cast down and a Ben- 
ton vanquished and destroyed were two entirely dif- 
ferent things, as they were soon to discover. Benton 
immediately set about reorganizing his "bolt" from 

• ** * TV /T " * 83 

the regular Democratic organization in Missouri. 

When the parties in that State were about to 
prepare for the Congressional, State and Presidential 
elections in 1852, the Antis made another effort to 
heal the schism which had resulted in the election of 
a Whig Senator, and sought to bring together into 
one State convention all who still claimed to be Dem- 
ocrats. But with this Benton would have nothing 
to do. Letters were published by him in denuncia- 
tion of the movement toward factional reconcilia- 
tion, and his followers were forbidden to participate 
in the State Democratic convention which met at 
Jefferson City early in the summer of 1852. That 
convention, composed mainly of radicals, manifested 
a willingness to forget the past, including Benton's 
"hostility to the Compromise measures of 1850," 
his disobedience of the legislative instructions, and 
his open "bolt" from the Democratic party, "on con- 
dition that he and his supporters would 'acquiesce' in 
the adjustment measures of 1850 and the principles 

83 The Washington correspondent of the Louisville (Ky.) Courier 
wrote in March, 1851: ". . . . Mr. [F. P.] Blair [Jr.] visited him 
[Benton] a day or two since to prevail upon him to announce himself as 
a candidate for the Presidency, regardless of all party dictation or nom- 
ination; assuring him that the country would sustain him if he would do 
so. His supplications and entreaties, however, were of no avail, as Benton 
vowed that he would give neither sleep to his eyes nor rest to his limbs, 
until he had revolutionized Missouri, and his supremacy in that State was 

conceded by his reelection to the Senate in the place of Atchison " 

Quoted in the Western Eagle, March 21, 1851. 


they established, and in good faith adhere to the 
party organization and nominees." 84 In less than 
two months after the Jefferson City convention, "Col- 
onel Benton took the stump again in Missouri, de- 
nounced the Democratic State Convention and its 
platform, derided all who adhered to it, and pro- 
claimed that he would never again support the nom- 
inees even of a Democratic National Convention." 8S 

Acting in accordance with Colonel Benton's ad- 
monitions, "his friends drew off from the Democratic 
party in most portions of the State where they had 
any strength. In the first Congressional District, 
the regular convention nominated as the Democratic 
candidate for Congress, Col. Louis V. Bogy; the 
Benton men bolted, and Colonel Benton ran as an in- 
dependent candidate. His example and his advice 
were followed generally by his friends: they bolted 
from the regular Democratic organization, formed a 
new organization and continued to act under it," un- 
til after the defeat of Benton for reelection to the 
Senate in 1854-55. 

Colonel Benton's election to the House of Rep- 
resentatives was merely an episode in his struggle 

84 Rev. Pol. Action, 8. "As an illustration of his [Benton's] 
course," the Review continues, "it may be here stated, that on the 15th of 
May, 1852, he delivered a speech at the town of Jackson, Missouri, unsur- 
passed in vituperation, in which, after reviling and denouncing the Dem- 
ocratic State Convention for nearly half an hour, he proceeded thus: 'I 
now drop the Jefferson City convention with the declaration that it was 
all a fraud and cheat from the beginning! that it had effected no union 
between the two wings of the Democracy! that the Antis (Democrats) 
remain (their leaders, I mean) under a distinct organization.'" 

85 Ibid. 


for reelection to the Senate. 86 The same fury and 
vehemence and vituperation characterized his cam- 
paign in 1852 that had distinguished his canvass 
three years earlier. Throughout the whole of the 
tremendous contest for election to the House, from 
which he emerged triumphant, "he spared no 
public or personal denunciation. He exhausted 
every expletive of abuse. He ransacked the entire 
range of the English language for terms of scorn and 
derision. He spared no character. He wavered in 
no contest. He struck at everything and everybody, 
fiercely, powerfully, and with a rude grandeur of 
gigantic rage and hate. He was an angry Vulcan 
forging and launching thunderbolts of hate." 87 

86 Though the campaign of 1852 involved issues of more significance 
than the personal defeat or triumph of one leader and his faction, the 
Jackson Resolutions and the Wilmot Proviso and Benton's opposition to 
the Compromise measures of 1850 still lay at the bottom of the factional 
war. In a letter to the editor of the Booneville (Mo.) Observer, in June, 
1852, Benton said, referring to the Jackson Resolutions: "I gave notice 
to the people, in my appeal in 1849 of my intention to get their decision 
upon the question of expunging those resolutions from the journals. I now 
repeat the notice, with the declaration of my intention to continue the 
efforts (and if I remain out of Congress, in a more direct manner) until 
it succeeds, or my natural life ceases." Benton, it may be added here, 
never succeeded in this second "expunging" struggle. The letter referred 
to is quoted in Rev. Pol. Action, 106. 

87 Comment of the New Orleans Crescent upon Benton's election to 
the House, quoted in Jefferson Inquirer, Aug. 28, 1852. Preceding the 
passage quoted above, occurs the following comment: "In the history 
of American politics we have just realized an extraordinary occurrence. 
A man who but yesterday was driven from the council hall of the nation, in 
which it was his boast that he stood for thirty years a Senator, returns 
again into his legislative labors, and returns under circumstances of the 
most extraordinary and triumphant character. He is elected by a Dem- 
ocratic slave-holding constituency and elected by a remarkably large popular 
vote when his theoretical opinions and senatorial votes have notoriously 
made him obnoxious to the entire slave-holding section of the Union. He 


Long after Colonel Benton's election to the 
House, the war of the factions continued. In Au- 
gust, 1852, a special session of the Legislature was 
called to consider the subject of Internal Improve- 
ments, a subject in which there was deep and wide- 
spread interest in Missouri during this period. 
Great, however, "as was the particular interest every- 
where felt in the early completion" of the railroads 
within the State, "nothing could obscure the camp- 
fires of the political factions, or smooth the ragged 
edge of their conflicts. Fresh from the turbulence 
of the State canvass, which had closed on the first 
Monday of the month, the Senators and Representa- 
tives of the people, supplemented by a large and 
active lobby, assembled at the Capitol, and at the 
very threshold confronted the questions of Benton 
and anti-Benton, Free-soil and Slave-soil, Whig and 
Democrat, Hard and Soft. Therefore, a most bitter 
and protracted struggle ensued in the organization 
of the House, during which the special objects for 
which the session had been called were entirely for- 
gotten And thus the conflict raged, the 

'Jackson Resolutions' being the real element of dis- 
cord : the Benton Democrats avowing the purpose 

is elected from a populous district against the opposition of a well-organized 
and enthusiastic body of Whigs, when his own party was split into two 
irreconcilable factions, and when the Whigs knew that the whole of a 
long life had been devoted to the bitterest and most vindictive, vituperative 
warfare upon their cardinal principles and most eminent leaders. He is 
elected from a district in which his violence of temper and haughtiness of 
will have bred countless feuds and as it were petrified them into im- 
placable enmities Nor did Benton attempt to conciliate. Concilia- 
tion is not in his rough and stubborn nature " See also Rev. Pol. 

Action, 106. 


to expunge them from the Journal; the Antis, to 
keep them there; the Whigs securely poised on the 
pedestal of 'armed neutrality.' " 88 

This special session of the General Assembly 
did not adjourn finally until two days before the 
time fixed by statute for the assembling of the next 
regular session, which began December 27, 1852, 
and adjourned February 24, 1853. The latter was 
"a stormy session — storms in both Houses over the 
Jackson Resolutions, and the questions of slavery, 
secession and disunion." 89 With its close we are 
brought to the beginning of the memorable campaign 
of 1853, which marks the culmination of Benton's 
efforts to secure his restoration to the Senate — a 
campaign deserving a detailed treatment which is 
reserved for subsequent chapters. 

88 Switzler's Missouri, 276-277. 

89 Ibid. ; Missouri House Journal, 519. 


The Pacific Railroad-Benton's "Central National Highway"— 
Nebraska Territorial Movement, 1852—Abelard Guthrie— Doug- 
las's Lack of Interest in Nebraska-Atchison's Inconsistency. 

Nearly coincident with the beginning of the 
schism in the Missouri Democracy precipitated by 
Benton's "Appeal," occurred the discovery of 'gold in 
California and the vast emigration from the eastern 
States across Nebraska. With the growth of popu- 
lous settlements upon the Pacific coast arose the ne- 
cessity of providing for their protection and defense, 
and for some means of cementing these widely sep- 
arated portions of the Union. In politics as else- 
where, necessity is the mother of invention ; and the 
necessity thus created gave birth to a variety of proj- 
ects designed to bind the Pacific settlements to the 
rest of the Union. Of such projects none was more 
ambitious or more pretentious than Thomas H. Ben- 
ton's plan for a "Central National Highway to the 

The importance of this project in the history of 
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise lies in the 
effective use which Colonel Benton made of it in his 
struggle for restoration to the Senate. The "High- 
way" seemed to render necessary the adoption by the 
Federal Government of a definite plan for the gov- 
ernment of the territory traversed. Colonel Benton 


therefore urged the early organization of Nebraska 
Territory as an indispensable means to the construc- 
tion and maintenance of the Great Highway. In 
this he was actively seconded by the efforts of the 
Wyandott Indians living in Nebraska through whose 
lands the Highway would pass, and who were there- 
fore deeply interested in the scheme. Benton kept 
these subjects so prominently before the people of 
Missouri in 1852-53 that upon each of them Senator 
Atchison had to define explicitly his position. 

In 1849 Colonel Benton had introduced into the 
Senate a bill "to provide for the location and con- 
struction of a central national road from the Pacific 
Ocean to the Mississippi river, with a branch of said 
road to the Columbia river." 90 On the sixteenth of 
December, 1850, a few days before the meeting of the 
Legislature in which he was defeated for reelection 
to the Senate, he introduced a second bill, "to pro- 
vide for the location and construction of a central 

90 February 7, 1849. This bill was accompanied by a speech in which 
the results of Fremont's explorations were reviewed at length. The scheme 
for the central national highway, presented at this time, was not so 
elaborately worked out as the one introduced in 1850, nor was it made 
the object of attack and ridicule to such a degree. The bill of 1849 may 
be found, together with Benton's speech, in Cong. Globe, xx, 470, 625. 
The bill of 1850, with Benton's speech at that time, may be found in Cong. 
Globe, xxiii, 56, and in Connelley's Prov. Gov., 88 ff. Neither bill came 
to a final vote. 

The idea of a railroad to the Pacific did not of course originate with 
Benton. Before the introduction of his second bill, there had appeared in 
print: Loughborough's The Pacific Telegraph and Railway (St. Louis, 
1849), Asa Whitney's Project for a Railroad to the Pacific (N. Y., 1849), 
and Peyton's Suggestions on Railroad Communication with the Pacific and 
the Trade of the Indian Islands. See also Professor Turner's essay on 
"The Significance of the Frontier in American History," in Am. Hist. Assn., 
Report, 1893, 204 n; and J. P. Davis's History of the Union Pacific Rail- 


national highway from the Mississippi river, at St. 
Louis, to the Bay of San Francisco, on the Pacific 

For the next two years there is no evidence that 
Colonel Benton displayed any active interest in the 
railway measure by pressing it upon either the atten- 
tion of Congress or the country. Consequently when 
he began an active championship of that project 
and of the Nebraska territorial measure late in 
1852 and continued to make them the leading issues 
of the campaign of 1853, it afforded his enemies an 
opportunity to allege that the advocacy of these proj- 
ects grew out of his political necessities in 1849-50, 
and that they were now revived merely for election- 
eering purposes. During his thirty years of service 
in the Senate, it was pointed out, Colonel Benton had 
never manifested any special interest in these sub- 
jects until his term was about to expire. His osten- 
tatious devotion to these measures in 1853 was ac- 
cordingly ridiculed and denounced by Atchison and 
his supporters as devoid of all sincerity and as a 
purely demagogical bid for popularity in Missouri. 91 

91 In speeches delivered at Weston and Platte City in June, 1853, 
Senator Atchison made the following ironical allusion to Benton's project: 

"In 1850 he [Colonel Benton] introduced his bill to construct a railroad 
from St. Louis to San Francisco, said road to be a mile wide for the 
distance of two thousand miles, almost as much territory as is comprised 
in some of the States of the Union, reserved and set aside for roads, a 
railroad with double tracks, a turnpike road, a dirt road and a line of 
telegraph. Magnificent was it not? . . . . But this was not all. When 
the roads are completed one of the highest and most solid peaks of the Rocky 
Mountains is to be cut into a statue of Christopher Columbus with an 
arm outstretched and upon it to be inscribed 'The Road to India;' and 
but for the modesty of the Old Statesman, another peak would be selected 


It was an important part of Colonel Benton's 
plan of campaign in 1853 so to associate the organi- 
zation of Nebraska Territory and the construction 
of the railroad to the Pacific from St. Louis across 
the State of Missouri, that the people of that State 
would regard the territorial government as indis- 
pensable to the success of the railway, and in the suc- 
cess of the railway every Missourian felt a direct 
interest. 92 

Perhaps the first public utterance in which the 
construction of the railroad to the Pacific and the 
organization of a territorial government in Nebraska 
are coupled is to be found in the report of a speech 
delivered by Colonel Benton at Jackson in Cape Gir- 
ardeau county, Missouri, late in October, 1852. 93 In 
this speech Colonel Benton had much to say about 
the railroad, and in that connection occurs this pass- 

"Connected with this road, necessary to its construction and 
preservation and indispensable to the approximation of our pop- 
ulations, is the establishment of the new territory on the Kansas 

and a statue sculptured of the great man who by his genius and exertions 
consummated what the mind of Columbus had conceived. 

"The bill was introduced at the session of 1850-51, when our old and 
distinguished statesman's senatorial career was about to close. A road 
one mile wide and two thousand miles long, to be constructed at an expense 
of from one hundred to two hundred million dollars, without examination 
or survey. As to the survey, however, we are told that those primitive 
engineers the Buffaloes had surveyed the route; and upon this Buffalo 
information thus imparted Congres swas expected to act!" — Reported in 
the Missouri Republican, June 22, 1853. See also the Western Eagle, 
Aug. 17, 1849. 

92 See the remarks of Hon. J. W. Lindley in the House, Cong. Globe, 
xxxi, 797, quoted later in this chapter. 

93 Delivered Oct. 30, 1852, and reported in the Jefferson Inquirer, 
Nov. 6, 1852. 


river extending north and south to the Platte and Arkansas, and 
west to the boundary lines of New Mexico and Utah. It is a 
fine country .... in the healthy and genial climate of 38 and 
39 , and now roamed over by a few unsettled Indians who would 
be benefited by being reduced to small bands, supplied with stock 
animals and taught agriculture and the rudiments of civilization. 
Continuity of settlement, and of jurisdiction, consolidation of our 
power from Missouri to California, filling up a blank which now 
exists in our western territory, putting law and civilization into 
communication across the continent and through its center, mak- 
ing travelling safe, direct and speedy and cheap between the 
remote parts of our extended dominions; such are the powerful 
national reasons for the immediate and indispensable establishment 
of the Kansas Territory." 

The second session of the 320! Congress had 
scarcely adjourned in March, 1853, when Colonel 
Benton issued a letter of great length addressed to 
the people of Missouri, and intended for publication, 
in which he took up anew and with characteristic 
vigor the agitation of the Central National Highway 
scheme, and emphasized the establishment of a ter- 
ritorial government in Nebraska as a means which 

would facilitate the construction of the Great High- 


In the following May, he wrote a letter to the 
citizens of Cole county, Missouri, 95 in which he 
again took pains to make clear the intimate connec- 
tion between the establishment of a territorial gov- 
ernment in Nebraska and the "location, construction 
and support of the great central railroad." 

Colonel Benton did not stop here, but grossly 

9 4 The letter appeared in the National Intelligencer, June 7, 1853. 

95 Dated May 3, 1853; in the Jefferson Inquirer, June 6, 1853, and 
quoted in Chapter IV. 


misrepresented Atchison as not only not favoring the 
railroad, but as being actively hostile to it; and also 
as being opposed to the organization of a territorial 
government, and therefore as acting in opposition 
to the most important interests of his constituents. 

To these misrepresentations, Senator Atchison 
replied in speeches delivered at Weston and Platte 
City in June, 1853, 96 and later at Parkville, 97 and 
Fayette, 98 explaining his position "without reserve or 
disguise." Appealing to his record in Congress, he 
pointed out that in 1850, two days after Colonel Ben- 
ton had introduced his bill for the Great National 
Highway, he himself had introduced a bill granting 
to Missouri the right of way and a portion of the 
public lands for the purpose of aiding in the con- 
struction of a railroad from St. Louis to the western 
limits of the State. He had also at previous sessions 
introduced into the Senate a bill to grant the right of 
way and a portion of the public lands to assist in the 
construction of a railroad from Hannibal to St. Jo- 
seph. These bills ultimately became laws. The sole 
credit for the passage of these measures Atchison did 
not claim for himself. 99 He was willing to share it 
with his colleagues and they with him. But he was 
careful to point out that those bills became "the laws 

96 The speeches at Weston and Platte City, June 6 and n, are re- 
ported in the Missouri Republican, June 22, 1853. 

97 Aug. 8, 1853. Reported in the Missouri Republican, Aug. 31, 1853. 

98 Early in November, 1853. Reported in the Jefferson Inquirer, Nov. 
14, 1853. 

99 For evidence of Atchison's activity in procuring land grants in aid 
of Missouri railroads, see Cong. Globe, xxiii, 23, 35, 56, 78, 133, 215, 459, 
476, 624, 661. 


of the land since the exodus of the 'Old Senator' from 
that chamber which he so beautifully adorned for 
thirty years." Senator Atchison then went on to ex- 
plain the importance of this legislation and his own 
attitude toward a railroad to the Pacific: 

"The land obtained by these measures will assist in the con- 
struction of two roads from the Mississippi, both pointing to the 
Pacific Ocean, either of them long links in the chain of railroads 

yet to be constructed Who does not perceive and is not 

willing to admit that the grant of lands thus obtained will facili- 
tate, expedite and certainly insure, the speedy completion of the 
Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad, the Pacific railroad from St. 
Louis to Kansas, as well as the southwestern branch of the same, 
terminating in a section of the State rich in resources hitherto 
undeveloped. Missouri will then occupy the enviable position of 
being able to offer to the United States three frontier starting 
points for the Pacific railroad, an offer which cannot be made by 
any other State in the Union. 

"The construction of these roads through Missouri will 
obviate a constitutional objection, entertained by many as to the 
power of Congress to build works of this sort through the State. 
In obtaining these grants of land the first link toward connecting 
by railroad the valley of the Mississippi with the Pacific, was 
heated, formed and welded, and if ever the connection is made, 
(and I doubt not it will be) and either of the points upon our 
western border be made the starting point, it will be because this 
link has been made. In making this Colonel Benton had no 
agency, he being present neither at the heating, forming, welding 
or completion of it 10 ° 

100 This speech included the following caustic reference to Colonel 
Benton: "Now fellow citizens, I will close my remarks upon the subject 
of the Nebraska Territory and the Road to India by saying that I sincerely 
believe the greatest obstacles to the success of both these measures are the 
position of our Old Senator and the Old Senator himself, with his arrogant 
dogmatism, and self-sufficiency. Humbuggery will defeat those measures 
if anything can. His motives spring not from a desire for the public good; 
he imagines that he is now astride of two popular hobbies and he will 


"I will now give you briefly my opinion of the railroad to 
connect the valley of the Mississippi river with the Pacific coast. 
I am in favor of the construction of such a road by the General 
Government for that purpose. I will vote to appropriate land 
and money. I believe it absolutely necessary for the preservation 
of the integrity of this Union As to where it shall com- 
mence or where it shall end, that is a matter to be determined 
when the surveys and operations now in progress shall be com- 
pleted, and the route it must take between the termini is entirely 
dependent upon these surveys. We may bluster about a northern, 
a southern and a central route; but it all amounts to nothing; 

nothing but the actual surveys can determine it I have 

been represented by my enemies as being opposed to the whole 
measure. Then again I have been represented as being in favor 
of a southern route commencing at Galveston, Texas, running 
by El Paso; at another time in favor of one commencing at 
Memphis and running through Arkansas, Texas, and so forth, 

ride them without mercy. He announces himself a candidate for the 
Senate in 1855 to take my place; and upon these hobbies he wishes to ride 

into office Do you know gentlemen, that Benton has been from 

his arrogance and tyrannical bearing in the Senate considered a nuisance 
by his colleagues in that body? .... Now gentlemen, Colonel Benton 
has but little influence with a Democratic Administration. He deserves 
none. The Colonel is very well understood everywhere but at home. The 
Democrats out of the State of Missouri do not recognize him as one of 
them. The Whigs know him not. Both these parties look upon him as 
an outsider. The abolitionists and freesoilers, however, recognize him as 
one of their most distinguished leaders, and verily they are not mistaken in 
the man. He has done more for their cause than one hundred Garrisons, 

Hales, Chases or Sewards " 

On May 29, Senator Atchison wrote as follows to Judge S. Treat: 
"I will speak to the whole State, from the court house in this town 
[Platte City] on Monday next, and from the church in Weston on Sat- 
urday week. My theme will be 'Nebraska' & the 'road to India.' I will 
dwell a short time upon the reply to the Holly letter. 

"Of all the humbugs the old sinner [Benton] has ever mounted, of all 
the lame, blind, windbroken, & spavined hobbies, the old villain ever 
bestrode, he has now mounted the most shabby, his 'sitting astraddle of the 
big gun when it bursted' [on board the man-of-war, "Princeton"] was 
nothing to it." This letter is reprinted in Mo. Hist. Soc. Proc, ii, 90. 


and of any route that would be most inconvenient and prejudicial 
to the interests of Missouri. Now the man who originated these 
charges and those who publish them know that they (I will not 
say lie) have 'said the thing that is not so.' It is false on its 
face. I am and have been a citizen of this State more than half 
my years. All the interest I have on earth is here. You know 
it and you scorn the men who conceived, uttered and published 

the falsehood 

"But, fellow citizens, Colonel Benton says that the road to 
the Pacific must commence at Kansas and run through a pass in 
the Rocky Mountains, the pass of which Leroux and Fremont 
speak, and through which Bcal is to travel on his way to Califor- 
nia, and nowhere else, and Benton and Benton men put me 
down against it 'because of my dislike of Colonel Benton.' Now 
I do not love Benton ; that is well known. But if his route 
should prove a route at all and is the cheapest and best route and 
most to the interest of Missouri, I will vote for and sustain that 
route. But, fellow citizens, I doubt very much whether the 
Congress of the United States can agree on the exact point of 
beginning or end of this railroad or the course it shall pursue 

between the termini There is no doubt in my mind that 

a large majority of Congress and the people of the United States 
are in favor of the construction of a railroad. Colonel Benton 
and his friends will have it that Atchison, Phelps, etc., are op- 
posed to the Great Road to India. It was proposed at the last 
session of Congress by amendments offered to Gwin's bill to com- 
mence the road at Galveston, Vicksburg and Memphis. All such 
propositions were voted down by large majorities. It was pro- 
posed by Mr. Chase of Ohio to commence the road at a point 
between the southwest corner of Missouri and the Council Bluffs. 
This proposition was withdrawn. My opinion is that this matter 
of the termini and the route of the road will of necessity be left to 
the discretion of the President, and there I am willing to leave 
it. General Pierce has no personal interest in it. He represents 
no local interest but the whole Union is in his keeping. So much 
for the railroad." 

One important result of the prominence given 


to the subject of a railroad from the Mississippi to 
the Pacific in 1852-53 was to reawaken interest in 
Nebraska Territory and to impress upon the people 
of Missouri and Iowa and the Wyandott Indians in 
Nebraska the necessity of establishing a territorial 
government over the possible route, not only for the 
protection of the railroad but also for the validation 
of land titles and for the promotion of settlement 
along its route. 

We therefore discover the final movement for 
the organization of Nebraska Territory springing up 
during the summer of 1852 101 in two different quar- 
ters — among the Missouri frontiersmen and among 
the Wyandott Indians in Nebraska. Apparently 
these movements had no connection at the beginning 
save the common stimulus furnished by the railroad 
agitation. But, though local in character and rep- 
resenting local interests, they became within a year 
very closely related to each other and also related to 
the political fortunes of Benton and Atchison during 
the internecine political war in Missouri described 
in the preceding chapter, and therefore they consti- 
tute a part of the story of the repeal of the Missouri 

On the seventeenth of June, 1852, the citizens of 
Parkville, Platte county, on the western border of 
Missouri, convened in public meeting "for the pur- 
pose of considering the propriety of petitioning Con- 
gress for the organization of the Territory of Nebras- 

101 In December, 1851, Hon. Willard P. Hall had introduced into the 
House his abortive bill for the organization of the Territory of "Platte;" 
Cong. Globe, xxiv, Pt. i, 80. Mr. Hall resided at St. Joseph, Buchanan 
County, Missouri, in the western part of the State. 


ka, and for the immediate settlement of lands lying 
therein" from which the Indian title had been ex- 
tinguished. After free discussion a resolution was 
"unanimously adopted as expressive of the sense of 
the meeting," petitioning Congress for "the imme- 
diate organization of the Territory of Nebraska," 
and for the right of settlement therein as soon as the 
Indian titles should be extinguished. 102 

102 1 am indebted to William M. Paxton, Esq., of Platte City, Mo., 
for the loan of the Weekly Platte Argus which gives an account of this 
Parkville meeting in its issue of June 25, 1852. The preamble and res- 
olutions were as follows: 

"Whereas the limits of the United States have been extended to the 
shores of the Pacific Ocean, and Oregon, California, Utah and New Mexico 
have been constituted a part of this Union; and Whereas, That the Terri- 
tory of Nebraska has been made the connecting section, and left as an open 
space between the two flanks of civilization, it has become the true policy 
of the Government of the United States that this space should be closed 
up; and Whereas, That the Territory of Nebraska is now being annually 
traversed by many thousands of the citizens of the United States who emi- 
grate from the States of the Atlantic to the Pacific shores, and the roads 
of the emigrants leading through the Territory are over lands of great 
fertility, and which are well suited for settlement and cultivation, but 
which, under existing circumstances, are withheld from settlement and culti- 
vation, and allowed to present to the emigrants who wend their way 
through them, only the face of dreariness and waste, a country that pro- 
duces nothing for the support of men; and Whereas, That the roads of 
the emigrants stretch over the uncultivated lands of the Territory of 
Nebraska for the distance of five or six hundred miles, which they are 
compelled to traverse, with no laws to protect their persons or property 
from aggressions, no inns or taverns to afford them shelter or food, no 
persons to furnish them with forage or provisions, no physicians to prescribe 
for them when attacked with disease, while they are subject to enormous 
tolls; and Whereas, That the Territory of Nebraska has ceased to be an 
available hunting ground for the Indians of the tribes and bands claiming 
lands therein: 

"Therefore, Resolved, That the Senate and House of Representatives 
of the United States, be and they are hereby petitioned to provide by law 
for the immediate organization of the Territory of Nebraska, and for 
domiciling the Indians of the several tribes and bands which claim lands 
lying therein, upon small parcels of land to be assigned to them for 


The meeting directed that a record of its pro- 
ceedings be sent to the President of the United States 
Senate, to Senator David R. Atchison and to Hon. 
Willard P. Hall, of the House of Representatives, 
with the request to each that the record be "laid be- 
fore their respective bodies." 103 

Almost simultaneously with this popular move- 
ment in western Missouri there appeared a move- 
ment having a similar purpose among the Wyandott 

The Wyandotts, having resided since the War 
of 1812 in portions of Ohio and Michigan in close 
contact with the whites, had, by the year 1843, be- 

cultivation, and also for the immediate settlement of the lands of the 
Territory from which the Indian title has been extinguished by American 
citizens who may desire to emigrate and become inhabitants of said 

Another resolution provided "That a record of the proceedings of 
this meeting be forwarded to the editors of each of the several newspapers 
printed in the counties of Platte and Clay with the request that the same 
be published in their respective journals." 

Compare this description of conditions along the emigrant routes in 
Nebraska with that given by Abelard Guthrie, the Nebraska Territorial 
Delegate, in his letter to Hon. H. L. Dawes, July 20, 1861, to be found 
in Connelley's Prov. Gov., 74 ff. ; and with the remarks of Mr. Hall of 
Missouri in the House, Feb. 10, 1853, Cong. Globe, xxvi, 558 ff . ; also with 
Douglas's remarks, July 8, 1852, Cong. Globe, xxiv, Pt. ii, 1683. 

103 These resolutions were presented to the Senate by Senator Atchison 
July 7, 1852; Cong. Globe, xxiv, Pt. ii, 1666. From Douglas's remarks in 
the Senate, July 13, 1852, it appears that "memorials upon memorials in 
piles, from all the western States" had been flowing in upon the Committee 
on Territories during this session of Congress — "memorials for the pro- 
tection of the emigrant lines .... between the Mississippi river and the 
Pacific ocean." This is given as the reason for the introduction into that 
session of Congress of his bill to protect the emigrant route, and to establish 
a mail route and a telegraph line to the Pacific coast. From his own state- 
ment at the time, "I was not ambitious to come forward with a proposition 
of this kind," it may be inferred that he was acting with some degree of 
reluctance. — Cong. Globe, xxiv, Pt. i, 1161, Pt. ii, 1683, Pt. iii, 1760-1761. 


come quite civilized. "Families founded by white 
captives who had been adopted into the tribe came 
into the ascendancy in the affairs of the tribe. 1 ' 104 
Methodism had been introduced among them, and a 
permanent mission established in their midst. Even 
a lodge of Free Masons further testified to their prog- 
ress in civilization. They had developed an organ- 
ized government based upon a code of written laws, 
which provided for the punishment of crimes and the 
maintenance of social and public order. 105 

The Ohio Wyandotts were the last of the tribes 
in that State to relinquish their lands, but in 1842 
they ceded them to the United States, and in the fol- 
lowing year the tribe, then numbering about seven 
thousand, crossed the Mississippi, carrying with 
them, of course, their civilized institutions. Here 
they purchased thirty-six sections of land from the 
Delawares, located in the fork of the Missouri and 
the Kansas rivers, and directly opposite Platte and 
Buchanan counties in Missouri. 106 

Among the Wyandott Nation in 1852-53 there 

104 Kansas Historical Society's Transactions, xi, 98. 

105 Connelley's Prov. Gov., 2-3, and Kan. Hist. Soc. Transactions, vi, 97 
ff. See also R. E. Mervvin's paper, "The Wyandott Indians," in Kan. 
Hist. Soc. Trans., ix, 73 ff. 

106 Connelley's Prov. Gov., 2-3. In 1855 the great majority of the Wy- 
andotts accepted the allotment of their lands in severalty and dissolved their 
tribal relations. Ibid. "Immediately at the confluence of the Kaw [Kan- 
sas] and the Missouri lies the Wyandott reserve. It is small, extending six 
miles from the mouth. It is densely timbered. The tribe is not numerous, 
but they are comparatively civilized. They have mostly good farms and 
good houses for the West. They are wealthy, many of them having inter- 
married with the Whites." — Phillips's Conquest of Kansas, 12. 

The following is taken from the Iowa State Gazette of November 
9, 1853: "The editor of the Bloomington (Mo.) Republican lately visited 


were not a few men of education and ability m who 
had watched closely the consideration by Congress 
of measures which might affect their interests. They 
had observed the great emigration to California in 
1848-50 passing through their lands or those of 
neighboring tribes. They were aware of the plans 
then being discussed for the construction of a rail- 
road to the Pacific along the "central" route. "To 
them the purpose to build this road, and the presence 
of the gold-hunters, was other evidence that they must 

the Territory (of Nebraska) and since his return writes thus about it: 
'. . . . The Wyandotts are all civilized and generally educated; have neat 
and comfortable buildings, good farms, yet not extensive, stock in abun- 
dance, and live in pure American style. While on a recent visit to Ne- 
braska we dined at the house of a Mr. Hicks, supped and breakfasted with 
a Mr. Garrett, Wyandott families, and we can say truthfully that better 

tables are seldom found in Missouri We spent several hours with 

William Walker, the Provisional Governor of Nebraska. He is a man of 
very affable manners, and was frank and free in his communications with 
us. He is well educated and possesses fair talents. The Shawnees, Dela- 
wares, Kickapoos and other border tribes are partially civilized. Many 
of them are well educated and speak good English. We could hear of 
no tribes that desired to sell and leave the country. Some are for selling, 
reserving a preemption right and becoming citizens. Others are for selling 
part, reserving the other part, ultimately intending to become citizens. 
In our opinion the Wyandotts, Shawnees, Delawares and Kickapoos will 
finally decide to adopt the first of these plans. The border tribes are very 
friendly and quite kind; no trouble need be apprehended with any of them, 
if justly treated ' " 

107 Sketches of the leading men in the Wyandott Nation at this time 
may be found in Connelley's Prov. Gov., 5 ff. 

In speaking afterwards of the plans of the radical pro-slavery party 
in Missouri, Judge William C. Price said: 

"One of the things which proved bad for us, was the removal of the 
Wyandotts to the mouth of the Kansas River. It was not the intention 
that they should settle there. They were to have a large tract of land in 
Southern Kansas (what is now Southern Kansas). No one supposed that 
they would buy land of another tribe; such a thing had not been thought 
of. When they bought land of the Delawares and obtained control of the 
mouth of the Kansas River we were fearful that it was not for our best 


soon surrender their lands. They came to the conclu- 
sion that this was inevitable. If they must sell their 
lands, they desired to obtain as high a price as could 
be procured. They came to see that the organiza- 
tion of Nebraska territory would enhance the value 
of their lands, and from thenceforth were in favor 
of the measure." 108 

In the summer or autumn of 1852 a movement 
began among the Wyandotts, led by "a few daring 
and resolute spirits," whose avowed purpose was to 
force upon the attention of Congress the organization 

interest; there were too many white men in the tribe. Then the tribe came 
recently from Ohio where there was much opposition to slavery, and 
where existed the most successful underground railroad for conveying 
slaves to Canada. Then again, this tribe had but just settled at the mouth 
of the Kansas River when the division of the Methodist Church into 
Northern and Southern parts caused almost a war between the factions 
of the tribe. The portion of the tribe which wished to remain with the 
Old Church cried out against slavery, and the question was kept in con- 
stant agitation where we most desired nothing said. When it was sup- 
posed that Nebraska Territory would be organized we were often solicited 
by the faction in favor of the Church, South, to take a hand, but we were 
averse to doing that and hoped the question would quiet down. However, 
it did not do so. Benton, Blair, Brown, even Phelps, encouraged its agita- 
tion. The moving spirits in the cause of the Church, North, and in con- 
demning slavery, were J. M. Armstrong and Abelard Guthrie. Guthrie 
remained in Washington much of the time, as we believed then, at Ben- 
ton's expense. At any rate, it was known that he and Benton were much 
together; we had no doubt they acted in concert." Reported by William 
E. Connelley. 

108 \Vm. E. Connelley, in Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., vi, ioo. "It was the 
Indians, not the indigenous, but the emigrant Indians themselves, especially 
the Wyandotts, that warmly favored the occupation by white people of the 
vacant lands and ultimate organization of the Territory. They foresaw 
that the pressure westward and from the Pacific slope eastward of emigra- 
tion would ere long force the Government to abandon its restrictive policy. 
The Wyandotts and such whites as were within their tribe took the 
initiatory step by holding an election for a delegate to Congress in the fall 

of 1852 " — Governor Walker's "Notes on the Early History of 

Nebraska," in Connelley's Prov. Gov., 58 ff. 


of a territorial government for Nebraska. 109 The 
first definite step was the election of a "Delegate to 
Congress." This occurred on the twelfth of Oc- 
tober, 1852, in the Council House of the Wyandott 
Nation. All the votes cast were for Mr. Abelard 
Guthrie, a white man who had married a Wyandott 
woman and later had been adopted into the tribe. 110 
Upon the twentieth of November, 1852, Guthrie 
set out for Washington. From Cincinnati, he wrote a 

109 Governor Walkers "Notes on Nebraska Territory," in Connelley's 
Prov. Gov., 60-61. Names of Wyandott leaders are given in Kan. 
Hist. Soc. Trans., vi, 102. In a letter dated June 26, 1856, Abelard 
Guthrie, the "Territorial Delegate" wrote to Hon. Israel Washburn: "Four 
years had elapsed since the last abortive attempt to organize a government 
for Nebraska, and the people of that Territory had but little reason to 
believe that their interests would be attended to until they sent a delegate 
to urge them upon the consideration of Congress. They had observed that 
this course had been pursued by the people of Oregon, of Utah, of New 
Mexico and of Minnesota, with success." 

Mr. Connelley states that the Wyandotts sent a petition to the first 
session of the 32d Congress praying for the organization of Nebraska Ter- 
ritory. Connelley's Prov. Gov., 102. No authority or reference is given 
for this statement, and I have been unable to verify it. 

110 Speaking of this election, Governor Walker wrote: ". . . . But 
a serious question at hand had to be solved: Who would go, if elected, 
and run the risk of having to pay his own expenses to, at and from Wash- 
ington, as it was extremely doubtful whether the delegate so elected would 
be admitted to a seat. Mr. A. G., a man of talents and some experience 
in public life, having 'done the State some service' in other responsible 
positions, offered his services and was duly elected amidst the opposition 
of Government officials, the military especially. There being no existing 
provisional government in the Territory to give official evidence to Mr. G. 
of his election, he took with him the poll books as prima facie evidence of 
his election." — "Notes on Nebraska Territory," in Connelley's Prov. Gov., 
60-61. Guthrie had first become interested in the Wyandotts while filling 
the office of Register of the Land Office in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, under 
President Tyler in 1842. He followed the Wyandotts to Nebraska in 1843. 
A sketch of his life and a photograph are given in Connelley's Prov. 
Gov., 101 ff. 


letter 111 to William Walker of the Wyandott Na- 
tion 112 which states that he had travelled from St. 
Louis in company with Messrs. Geyer and Atchison, 
the Senators from Missouri, Representative Richard- 
son, then chairman of the House Committee on Ter- 
ritories, and Mr. W. H. Bissell, both of Illinois. 113 
The chief significance of the letter lies in the indi- 
cation which it gives of the attitude of both Atchison 
and Benton toward the organization of Nebraska 
Territory more than a year before the introduction 
into Congress of the bill finally known as the Kan- 
sas-Nebraska bill. In view of Guthrie's interest in 
the matter, he would naturally seek and be entitled 
to know exactly how they stood upon the subject. 
The following passage from the letter is accordingly 
entitled to considerable weight: 

"I am sorry to say that our Missouri Senators are by no 
means favorable to our Territorial projects. The slavery ques- 
tion is the cause of this opposition. I regret that it should inter- 
fere — it ought not. Mr. Atchison thinks that the slaves of 
Nebraska 114 are already free by the operation of the Missouri 

111 Dated December i, 1852. Printed in Connelley's Prov. Gov., 76-77. 

112 William Walker was elected Provisional Governor of Nebraska 
Territory in 1853. 

113 "Colonel Bissell took great interest in the Missouri conflict and was 
constantly in correspondence with the leaders .... [Benton, Blair, and 
Brown] and at times met them in consultation. No man in Illinois was 
held in higher estimation by the early workers for Free Soil in Missouri 
than Colonel Bissell." — Charles P. Johnson's "Personal Recollections of 
Some Eminent Statesmen and Lawyers of Illinois," in Illinois State His- 
torical Library's Publications, No. g, 47. 

114 The following occurs in Phillips's Conquest of Kansas (1856), 

"But even while Kansas was guaranteed to freedom, slavery was intro- 
duced. Nearly all of the Indian agents were slavery propagandists, and 
many of them owned slaves. The first slavery in the Territory, however, 


Compromise, and asks the repeal of that act before anything 
shall be done for Nebraska) this would put us back till doomsday 
for no Congress as our Government now stands will ever repeal 
that act. But for myself I do not consider it binding upon the 
people in moulding their state institutions. However, since the 
South take a different view of it, we must fight it out. I foresee 
the struggle will be a fierce one but it will be short and therefore 
not dangerous. I did not expect to accomplish this object without 
trouble; and I feel prepared for it. One incentive to determined 
perseverance is the fact that I beat Bannow at his own election, 
so Mr. Atchison informs me. 115 I shall certainly endeavor to 
merit the good opinion my friends have formed of me. I am full 
of hope and confidence as I have been from the start. I called to 
see Col. Benton but he had gone to Washington. This is fortu- 
nate, for he is our friend and can do us great service. 116 The 
measure will succeed, short as the time is, and with an opposition 
where we ought to have support "117 

Guthrie arrived in Washington December 5, 

was introduced by one who came professedly to preach the Gospel 

The Reverend Thomas Johnson .... is said to have first introduced 
slavery into Kansas. He introduced and held slaves at the time when the 
existence of the restriction rendered it a violation of the spirit of the 
temporal law." 

115 Referring to this election, Mr. Guthrie said: "At Fort Leaven- 
worth .... (where the largest body of citizens resided) the officer in 
command of the post [Col. T. T. Fauntleroy] forbade an election. Subse- 
quently, however, certain persons proposed holding another election, to 
overturn the first. This election was held at Fort Leavenworth (the com- 
manding officer having abandoned his opposition), and resulted in a large 
majority for me, I think, 54 to 16." According to Mr. Connelley, this 
second election in which Mr. Bannow (or Barrow) ran against Guthrie, 
was at the suggestion of Senator Atchison ; Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., vi, 102. 

116 To this point the italics are mine; those that follow are Guthrie's. 

117 Referring to Mr. Guthrie's services in connection with the estab- 
lishment of a territorial government in Nebraska, Mr. Connelley says: 
"All the evidence I have been able to obtain and examine shows that 
he was acting with, and largely for, Senator Thomas H. Benton of 
Missouri, although he says that the idea was his own and that 'solitary and 
alone' he undertook this work " — Prov. Gov., 101. 


1852, the day before Congress opened. 118 Evidently 
at first he experienced up-hill work in pressing the 
claims of Nebraska upon members of Congress, for 
we find him writing again to Walker on the ninth of 

December: 119 

" . . . . There is no business which tries a man's patience 
and good nature so much as trying to do business with men who 
feel that their self-interests are not intimately connected with your 

projects I have ascertained almost to a certainty that I 

shall not get my seat. But that is a small matter. I never ex- 
pected it and am not disappointed, but my faith is still strong 
that much will be effected." 

There were causes for hope rather than discour- 

"Mr. Hall has proposed a bill organizing one Territory, he 
has given it the name of Platte ; which I don't like but don't care 
much about the name though I shall try to have the old name 
retained. His bill has not yet been introduced but it is all 
ready and I think will be presented next week; if not another 
will be introduced by the Committee on Territories. The Chair- 
man [Richardson] of that Committee has given me assurances 
to that effect. Mr. Hall's bill says nothing about slavery but 
leaves untouched the Missouri Compromise. The Territory it is 
pretty confidently believed will be free." 

He then speaks of a measure which actually 
passed that session of Congress and prepared the 
way for the organization of the territorial govern- 
ment: 120 

"Another measure highly beneficial to our interest will be the 

118 Connelley's Prov. Gov., 79, 81. 

1 19 This letter may also be found in Connelley's Prov. Gov., 78-79. 

120 This was introduced by J. S. Phelps, a Representative from Mis- 
souri, as an amendment to the Indian Appropriation bill, February 24, 
1853; Cong. Globe, xxvi, 825. The Act, approved, may be found in 
Cong. Globe, xxvii, 359. 


appropriation of one hundred thousand dollars to enable the Pres- 
ident to negotiate with the different tribes for their surplus lands 
and other purposes. You will therefore have commissioners au- 
thorized to treat early in the spring. This is important and you 
may regard it as a 'fixed fact.' . . . .' 

True to his expectation, Mr. Guthrie witnessed 
the next week the introduction by Mr. Hall of the 
bill mentioned in the letter to Walker, and its refer- 
ence to the Committee on Territories. 121 

Four days after the introduction and reference 
of Mr. Hall's bill, Mr. Phelps of Missouri presented 
the memorial of Mr. Guthrie asking to be admitted 
to a seat on the floor of the House as a "Territorial 
Delegate." The memorial was referred to the Com- 
mittee on Elections 122 and "a report was made there- 
on and ordered to be printed, but no further action 
was had upon it." "As was feared," to quote Wil- 
liam Walker, "he was not admitted to a seat in the 
House, though his election was admitted, yet he did 
good service 'on his own charges' in the character of 
a 'lobby member.' " 123 

On the second of February, 1853, Mr. Richard- 
son, for the Committee on Territories, reported Hall's 
bill with amendments, which after considerable de- 
bate passed the House on the tenth of February, by a 
vote of 98 to 43. 


121 December 13, 1852; Cong. Globe, xxvi, 47. 

122 December 17, 1852; Cong. Globe, xxvi, 85, 1127. "Report of House 
Committee on Elections," April 3, 1862, in Connelley's Prov. Gov., 67 ff; 
House Journal, 2d Sess., 320" Cong., 50. 

123 Walker's "Notes on the Early History of Nebraska," in Connelley's 
Prov. Gov., 58 ff. 

124 Cong. Globe, xxvi, 558 ff. Before leaving this part of our subject, 
it may be well to give a few more facts regarding Guthrie. In 1854 and 



The principal participants in this debate were 
Houston of Alabama, Brooks of New York, and 
Howard of Texas, in opposition to the bill; and Hall 
of Missouri defending and supporting it. The re- 

1856 Guthrie submitted to the House memorials asking for the passage of 
an act whereby he should receive mileage and per diem for the period 
during which he acted as "Territorial Delegate." — House Journal, 1st 
Sess., 33d Cong., 170, 408, 615; ibid., 1st Sess., 34th Congress, Pt. ii, 1342; 
House Reports, 1st Sess., 34th Cong., No. 257. 

The matter dragged along until 1862 when the House Committee on 
Elections, to which the memorial had been referred, reported favorably 
to Guthrie's claim, citing as precedents the case of similar "Delegates" from 
New Mexico and Utah. In Mr. Connelley's Provisional Government are 
reprinted the letters written by Guthrie to Hon. Israel Washburn, and Hon. 
Henry L. Dawes, chairmen at different times of the House Committee on 
Elections while Guthrie's claim was pending, and also the final report of 
the Committee, just mentioned. — House Reports, 2d Session, 37th Congress, 
No. 67. These letters are designed to prove particularly the propriety and 
necessity which existed in 1852-53 of the establishment of a territorial gov- 
ernment and the sending of a delegate to Congress. They incidentally 
show something of Guthrie's activity, although perhaps in a somewhat 
exaggerated degree, but they do not throw much light upon the connection 
of Benton and Atchison with the project. 

In view of what Judge Price said about the Wyandotts and Guthrie, 
it may be well to quote here a few closing sentences from Guthrie's letter 
to Mr. Dawes, dated, Washington, July 21, 1861: 

"Allow me also, if you please, to submit the following propositions: 

"If your Committee have any sufficient evidence or can procure any, 
that it was the intention of the party then [1853-54] in power, or any other 
party, to organize this Territory within any reasonable or definite period, 
I will abandon my claim. 

"If the Committee have any sufficient evidence, or can procure any, 
that there was any other course as likely to succeed in securing an organ- 
ization as that of sending to Congress a man acquainted with the condi- 
tions, wants, soil, climate and resources of the Territory, I will give up 

my claim 

"If the Committee have any sufficient evidence, or can obtain any, that 
this Territory would not eventually have been received into the Union as a 
slave State under the skillful management and well-matured plans of South- 
ern Statesmen and their Northern friends, I will abandon my claim 

"If the Committee have any evidence, or can get any, that my move- 
ment for a government did not frustrate this design, I will abandon my 
claim " Connelley's Prov. Gov., 74 ff. 


marks of the two last-named, were more extended 
than those of any other speakers. The main objection 
raised to the bill was that the erection of a territorial 
government around the various Indian tribes in the 
Nebraska country would constitute a violation of 
existing treaty stipulations with those tribes. 

The only allusion to the subject of slavery in 
the course of this debate was the brief and oft-quoted 
colloquy between Giddings of Ohio and Howe of 
Pennsylvania. The latter inquired of Mr. Gid- 
dings, who was a member of the Committee on Terri- 
tories reporting the bill, why there was no clause in 
the bill prohibiting slavery in the new Territory. 
Mr. Giddings replied in effect that the Missouri 
Compromise restriction applied to all of that region. 
Thereupon Mr. Howe made the rejoinder: "I 
should like to know of the gentleman from Ohio, if 
he has not some recollection of a compromise made 
since then." To which Mr. Giddings answered, 
"That does not affect this question." The inference 
always drawn from the incident is that Mr. Howe, 
and perhaps other persons, had conceived that in 
some way or other the Missouri Compromise prohi- 
bition had been impaired by the compromise meas- 
ures of 1 85c 125 

A week after the bill passed the House, Senator 

125 Cong. Globe, xxvi, 558 ff. There is considerable evidence tending 
to prove that the extremists in the South took it for granted that the Missouri 
Compromise was repealed by the Compromise of 1850. This would go far 
toward explaining the very general apathy and indifference to the Repeal 
while the Kansas-Nebraska bill was pending in Congress which is revealed 
by an examination of the leading southern newspapers. See an editorial 
in the New York Tribune, December 14, 1853 ; and an editorial in the St. 
Louis Intelligencer, November io, 1850, quoted in Chapter VI, note 268. 


Douglas reported it to the Senate without amend- 
ment, and on the last day of the session, he moved to 
take it up for consideration. Objection was at once 
made by Mr. Rusk of Texas, and Mr. Adams of 
Mississippi immediately raised the question regard- 
ing Indian rights which had been threshed over in 
the House. The Senate refused to consider the bill. 
It is worth while digressing at this point to bring 
out the striking contrast to the activity of Missou- 
rians, Iowans and Wyandotts in promoting the or- 
ganization of Nebraska Territory presented by the 
inaction of Senator Douglas. Mr. Douglas's con- 
nection with the Nebraska bill in March, 1853, just 
mentioned, is the first indication of any interest on 
his part in Nebraska since December, 1848. Yet he 
had the assurance to say in the Senate on this occa- 

sion: 126 

"I must remind my friend from Mississippi [Mr. Adams] 
that eight years ago, when he and I were members of the House 
of Representatives, I was then pressing the Nebraska bill, and 
that I have ever since been pressing it. I have tried to get it 
through for eight long years " 

This statement is the basis for the widely cur- 
rent, but erroneous, opinion that the organization of 
a territorial government in Nebraska had been a pet 
measure with Mr. Douglas for nearly a decade be- 
fore the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. An 
examination of the sources justifies the statement that 
Mr. Douglas's efforts in this direction have been 
very greatly exaggerated. Whatever efforts Mr. 
Douglas may have put forth between 1848 and 1853 

126 Cong. Globe, xxvi, 1117; see also Douglas's speech at Chicago, 
November 9, 1854, and Cutts's Const, and Party Questions, 87. 


in the interest of Nebraska appear to have been lim- 
ited to private interviews and to the sessions of the 
Committee on Territories, of which we have no rec- 
ord. The indexes of the Congressional Globe and 
of the House and Senate Journals fail to disclose the 
introduction by him of any Nebraska territorial bill 
after the year 1848 until he reported the Kansas- 
Nebraska bill in January, 1854. After December, 
1848, there ensued on his part more than four years 
of silence upon the subject of Nebraska Territory. 
On the other hand, other members of Congress had 
been manifesting in the interim a degree of interest 
quite in contrast to that of Mr. Douglas. Let us 
take up in order the various Nebraska bills which 
came before Congress prior to 1854 and see the occa- 
sion of their introduction and who had been their 

The original suggestion of a territorial govern- 
ment for the Nebraska country appeared in the an- 
nual report of Hon. William Wilkins, Secretary of 
War under President Tyler, dated November 30,- 
1844. 127 After referring to the explorations of Lieu- 
tenant Fremont and of the reluctance of Congress to 
organize a territorial government over the Oregon 
country owing to the conflicting claims of England, 
the Secretary goes on to recommend the organization 
of a territorial government in the region east of the 
Rocky Mountains, to be called Nebraska Territory, 
"in connection with, and preliminary to, the extension 

127 This report may be found in full in House Executive Documents, 
2d Sess., 28th Cong., i, 124 ff. 


in that direction of our military posts." 128 The first 
suggestion, therefore, of a territorial government for 
Nebraska was made with a view to strengthen our 
claim upon the Oregon region and to obtain a foot- 
hold upon the Pacific coast, but it did not originate 
with the Senator from Illinois. Indeed, it appears 
to have been this recommendation which first sug- 
gested to Mr. Douglas the idea of a territorial gov- 
ernment in Nebraska and which led him to introduce 
his first Nebraska bill in December, 1844. 129 

128 "Although," to use the Secretary's own words, "the number of 
inhabitants engaged in agriculture and other pursuits within those limits 
do not afford an amount of population at all adequate, at present, to the 
formation of a full and complete territorial government; yet such an 
inchoate or preliminary organization might be now adopted, as would be 
necessary to extend the control and authority of the general government, 
and to throw its protection around our emigrants to Oregon, in their 
passage through this country." In support of his recommendation, the 
Secretary then proceeds to argue that "A territorial organization of the 
country, and a military force placed on the very summit whence flow all 
the great streams of the North American continent, either into the Gulf of 
Mexico or the Pacific Ocean, would not longer leave our title to the Oregon 
territory a barren or untenable claim. Its possession and occupancy would 
thenceforth not depend upon the naval superiority on the Pacific Ocean. 
Troops and supplies from the projected Nebraska Territory would be able 
to contend for its possession with any force coming from the sea. Natural 
obstructions in the navigation of the Columbia river would enable settle- 
ments gradually to approach the coast in defiance (if it should come to 
that) of any navy in the world. The time, indeed, might not be distant 
when these very settlements would supply all the elements which might 
be needed, of naval strength, to give us our natural and proper position 

on the Pacific Ocean " The military side of this suggestion may 

be traced back through the messages of President Tyler, dated, December, 
1843, and December 6, 1842. See Richardson's Messages and Papers of the 
Presidents, iv, 196, 258, 337. 

129 Following close upon the report of the Secretary of War, Mr. 
Douglas, then serving his first term in the House, gave notice of a bill 
to establish a territorial government in Nebraska. Five days thereafter 
he introduced a bill for the establishment of a territorial government along 
the lines suggested by the Secretary of War. (December 11 and 16, 


After a silence of nearly four years, so far as 
the official record shows, the second Nebraska terri- 
torial bill was introduced by Mr. Douglas, who was 
then serving his first term as Senator, in March, 
1848. The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Territories, reported back on the twentieth of 
April, and made a special order for the twenty- 
sixth. 130 It has been impossible to discover that 
any further action was had upon the bill. It is 
also impossible to state positively what led Mr. 
Douglas to introduce it. It is highly probable, how- 
ever, that the impulse came from the State of Mis- 
souri. The Journal of the House of Representatives 
discloses the fact that three months before Mr. Doug- 
las introduced his second bill, a memorial from the 
Legislature of the State of Missouri on the subject 
of the organization of a territory west of that State 
was presented to the House by Hon. J. S. Phelps 
of Missouri. 131 A few weeks later, Mr. Atchison of 
Missouri, presented the same memorial in the Sen- 
ate. 132 The memorial argued, in brief, that on the 

1844.) On the seventh of January, 1845, an amendatory bill was reported 
back to the House by Hon. Aaron V. Brown, of Tennessee, for the Com- 
mittee on Territories. This bill was referred to the Committee of the 
whole House, and was never again called up. — Cong. Globe, xiv, 21, 41, 
1 ^5, x 73- Connelley's Prov. Gov., 22. 

130 Cong. Globe, xviii, 467, 656, 685. Connelley's Prov. Gov., 22. 

131 December 20, 1847. House Journal, 1st Sess., 30th Cong., 120. 
For the legislative history of this memorial, see Missouri House Journal, 
1846-47, 428, 461, 476, 488, 492, 495 ; and Missouri Senate Journal, 1846- 
47, 460. 

132 January 31, 1848. Senate Journal, 1st Sess., 30th Cong., 141. In 
each House the memorial was referred to the Committee on Territories. 
The memorial had been introduced into the Missouri House by Mr. N. B. 
Holden ; it passed without serious opposition, and was approved on the 


west of Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana and Arkansas, 
there lay a territory of unrivaled fertility, amply 
sufficient for the formation of five large States, but 
then in the possession of a mere handful of Indians. 
The memorial, without mentioning the subject of 
slavery, urged the extinguishment of Indian titles, 
and the organization of a territorial government, 
especially for the region directly west of Missouri. 

At the opening of the next session of Congress, 133 
Mr. Douglas gave notice of a new Nebraska bill, and 
also notice of bills for the organization of territorial 
governments in Minnesota and New Mexico, all of 
which were introduced by him on the twentieth of 
December, 1848, and referred to the Committee on 
Territories of which he was the chairman. Upon the 
Nebraska bill no further action was had. The only 
importance attaching to this third bill introduced by 
Mr. Douglas within a period of four years consists 
in the fact that it was the last Nebraska bill intro- 
duced by him until he reported the substitute bill of 
the twenty-third of January, 1854, repealing the Mis- 
souri Compromise. 134 

During the three years from December, 1848 to 
December, 1851, the official records of Congress con- 
sixteenth of February, 1847. See the Missouri Republican, October 26, 

133 December 4, 1848; Cong. Globe, xx, 1, 68. 

134 Douglas's apparent lack of genuine interest in Nebraska is the 
more surprising in view of the fact that in the first session of the 32d 
Congress several petitions from inhabitants of the States of Illinois and 
Indiana for the organization of Nebraska Territory were presented to the 
Senate, some of them by Mr. Douglas himself, and referred to the Com- 
mittee on Territories. — Senate Journal, 190, 330, 345, 478; see also 
note 103. 


tain no reference to Nebraska territorial government, 
and when the silence is finally broken it is not by any 
movement on the part of the Illinois Senator but 
again by a Representative from the State of Mis- 
souri. On the eleventh of December, 1851, Hon. Wil- 
lard P. Hall, a supporter of Atchison, who resided 
on the western frontier of Missouri, gave notice of a 
bill to organize the Territory of Platte which in- 
cluded the region later embraced by the terms of the 
Kansas-Nebraska bill. 135 Later in the same session, 136 - 
Hon. David R. Atchison, Senator from Missouri, 
presented to the Senate the resolutions and proceed- 
ings of the Parkville meeting, already mentioned, 
urging upon Congress the early organization of a 
territorial government in Nebraska. 

Early in the second session of the 32d Congress, 
which met in December, 1852, we find Mr. Hall of 
Missouri again introducing substantially the bill of 
the year previous with the name of the proposed 
Territory changed from Platte to Nebraska. 137 This " 
bill, as we have seen, passed the House early in 
1853 and failed in the Senate only by being post- 
poned to the last crowded days of the session. Even 
before this bill had passed the House, Senator A. C. 
Dodge of Iowa had introduced in the Senate a res- 
olution actually instructing the Committee on Terri- 
tories of which Mr. Douglas was chairman, "to in- 

135 Cong. Globe, xxiv, Pt. i, 80. This notice is all that I have been 
able to discover relating to the legislative history of this bill. No action 
was had upon it. 

136 July 7, 1S52; Cong. Globe, xxiv, Pt. ii, 1666. Senate Journal, 
1st Sess., 32d Cong., 509, 573. 

137 December 13, 1852; Cong. Globe, xxvi, 47. 


quire into the expediency of a territorial government 
for the country west of Iowa and Missouri and east 
of Utah, commonly called Nebraska." The resolu- 
tion, after consideration by unanimous consent, was 
agreed to. 138 

It is also highly significant that the original of 
the Kansas-Nebraska bill in the 33d Congress was 
not introduced by the chairman of the Committee on 
Territories, who only nine months before had had the 
assurance to declare that he had been trying for eight 
long years to get such a measure through Congress. 
Senator Dodge of Iowa introduced the Nebraska bill 
which in the hands of Mr. Douglas finally developed 
into the Kansas-Nebraska Act. 139 In the House a 
similar Nebraska bill was introduced by another 
Representative from Missouri, Hon. J. G. Miller. 140 

These facts connected with the origination of 
Nebraska territorial bills are significant because they 
show, in the first place, that the chief interest appear- 
ing in Congress relative to this topic between Decem- 
ber, 1848, and January, 1854, is not displayed by the 
chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories or 
by any other member of that Committee; and, in the 
second place, all the congressional interest in the 
subject seems to come from the two States of Iowa 141 
and Missouri where, as has been shown, a consid- 

13 8 January 17, 1853; Senate Journal, 2d Sess., 32c! Cong., 101. 

139 Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 1, 44. 

140 ibid., us, "7. 

1 41 Additional evidence of Iowa's interest in Nebraska as reflected in 
the Congressional Globe is given in Chapter VI. 


erable degree of local interest in the subject had been 
aroused by the Pacific railway agitation. 142 

This local interest peculiar to Missouri is also 
reflected in the debates on the Nebraska bills in the 
32d and 33d Congresses. "Perhaps," said Mr. Atch- 
ison in March, 1853, "there is not a State in the 
Union more deeply interested in this question than 
the State of Missouri." 143 

"If not the largest," he continued, "I will say the best 
portion of that territory, perhaps the only portion of it that in 
half a century will become a State, lies immediately west of the 
State of Missouri. It is only a question of time whether we will 
organize the territory at this session of Congress, or whether we 
will do it at the next session " 

During the debate upon the Kansas-Nebraska 
bill, Hon. J. W. Lindley, a Representative from Mis- 
souri, said: 144 

"..../ regard it as a matter of the utmost importance 
to the people of Missouri that these Territories should be organized 
at the earliest possible moment. An organization must be had 
before they can be peopled, and the settlement of these territories 
must precede that great enterprise of the age, the Pacific railroad. 
The Hannibal and St. Joseph road is now in process of construc- 
tion, and the right of way is asked to extend it west of Missouri. 
In my opinion the Pacific road must connect with this road at 
its western terminus, and thus, through the very heart of my 
district — through the rich agricultural counties of Livingston, 
Linn, Macon, and Shelby — will pass the great national thorough- 

142 One is therefore justified in dismissing Senator Douglas's state- 
ment as simply an illustration of the common disposition among politicians 
to "claim everything" in sight. 

143 Cong. Globe, xxvi, mi ff. Unless something has been overlooked 
unintentionally, the statements in Congress by members from the States 
of Iowa and Missouri are the only ones tending to establish the existence 
of a strong local interest in the creation of Nebraska Territory. 

144 Cong. Globe, xxxi, 797. The italics are mine. 


fare uniting the Atlantic with the Pacific, connecting Europe with 

Returning now to the attitude of Missouri poli- 
ticians toward the Nebraska territorial movement 
which Colonel Benton and the Wyandotts resusci- 
tated in 1852-53, we have seen that Senator Atchi- 
son, in conversation with Mr. Guthrie, had been out- 
spoken in his opposition to the territorial scheme, 
avowedly because of the prohibition of slavery in the 
proposed Territory. But during the winter of 1852- 
53 Senator Atchison's position underwent a change. 
He came to a realization of the fact that the people of 
western Missouri were strongly in favor of the cre- 
ation of the new Territory. There was nothing for 
him to do, therefore, as a practical politician, but to 
accede to the wishes of his constituents, and support 
the Nebraska bill, notwithstanding his previous op- 
position. Accordingly when the bill came up in the 
Senate in March, 1853, he made the following frank 
explanation of his position: 

" . . . . For my own part I acknowledge now, as the 
Senator from Illinois well knows, when I came to this city, at 
the beginning of the last session, I was perhaps as much opposed 
to the proposition as the Senator from Texas [Rusk] now is: 

The Senator from Iowa knows it 145 But, sir, I have 

upon reflection and investigation in my own mind and from the 
opinion of others, my constituents whose opinions I am bound to 
respect, come to the conclusion that now is the time for the 
organization of this territory 

"[One] reason that I will assign why I opposed this measure, 
and why I still think it objectionable in a local point of view, so 

145 Cong. Globe, xxvi, mi ff. From the allusions to Douglas and to 
Dodge of Iowa, it would seem as if the subject of Nebraska had at least 
been discussed in the session of 1851-52. 


far as my immediate constituents, the people of western Missouri 
are concerned, as well as those of Iowa and Arkansas are con- 
cerned, is, if you organize the territory of Nebraska and ex- 
tinguish the Indian title, and let in the white population upon 
that territory, it extends our frontiers from seven hundred to one 
thousand miles west, and we raise up competition with what we 
now have. The states of Iowa and Missouri now have the best 
market for all their products. We are an agricultural people, 
and for all the products of agriculture we have now as good a 
market as any people of the United States, and it grows out of 
the frontier trade; food for men, food for oxen, food for mules, 
food for everything, which we produce for California, Oregon 
and New Mexico. But if we extend this frontier from year to 
year competition will increase, and we will be compelled to turn 
our agricultural products down the Missouri and the Mississippi 

rivers, to the east instead of to the west The pressure of 

population from the older states and from Europe has been such 
that they roll up against the frontier, and the most populous 
counties in the State of Missouri are upon the western boundary 
of that State. In less than three years from this time, the most 
populous counties of Iowa will be upon the western border; and 
it will be the same case, if it is not now, with the State of Ar- 
kansas And why is it so? Why, sir, the tide of emigration 

rolls on until it is stopped by the intercourse laws. Such has 
been the case in our State for the last ten years, and I know that 
the tide of population has been rolling back upon the interior of 
the State. Now, sir, I know very well that in a very few years, 
if it is not now doing it, the tide of population, in defiance of this 
government, will pass the frontier and take possession of every 
habitable spot in Nebraska territory; you cannot keep them out. 
There is a large portion of our population who are ready and 
anxious to abandon their homes to go into this Territory. You 
cannot restrain them much longer "146 

After saying that a second reason for his opposi- 
tion to the bill was that "the Indian title in that Ter- 

146 The italics are mine. 


ritory had not been extinguished, or at least a very 
small portion of it," Senator Atchison went on to dis- 
cuss the question of slavery and the Missouri Com- 
promise in language of no little significance: 

"It was my opinion at that time [the opening of the session] 
— and I am not now very clear on that subject — that the law 
of Congress,'" when the State of Missouri was admitted into the 
—Union, excluding slavery from the territory of Louisiana north 
- of 36 30', would be enforced in that Territory unless it was 
specially rescinded ; and, whether that law was in accordance 
with the Constitution of the United States or not, it would do 
its work, and that work would be to preclude slaveholders from 
going into that Territory. But when I came to look into that 
question, I found that there was no prospect, no hope of a repeal 
of the Missouri Compromise, excluding slavery from that Terri- 
tory. -'Now, sir, I am free to admit that at this moment, at this 
hour, and for all time to come, I should oppose the organization 
or the settlement of that Territory unless my constituents and the 
constituents of the whole South, of the slave States of the Union, 
could go into it upon the same footing, with equal rights and equal 
privileges, carrying that species of property with them as other 
people of this Union. Yes, sir, I acknowledge that that would 
have governed me, but I have no hope that the restriction will 
ever be repealed. 

<^* "I have always been of opinion that the first great error com- 
mitted in the political history of this country was the Ordinance 
^-of 1787, rendering the Northwest Territory free territory. The 
next great error was the Missouri Compromise. But they are 
both irremediable. There is no remedy for them. We must 
submit to them. I am prepared to do it. It is evident that the 
Missouri Compromise cannot be repealed. / So far as that question 
is concerned, we might as well agree to the admission of this 
territory now as next year, or five or ten years hence." 147 

147 Senator Atchison then went on to give the additional reason for 


Considerable importance attaches to the por- 
tion of Mr. Atchison's explanation just quoted. 
First, it indicates clearly that prior to March, 1853, 
the possibility of the repeal of the Missouri Compro- 
mise had been seriously considered by him, and it 
is fair to infer that not a few others had also "come 
to look into that question." Although the statement 
is very guarded and incidental, nevertheless, consid- 
ering the political situation in Missouri and the plans 
of Benton's enemies, the phrase is not without sig- 
nificance. 148 The leaders of the aggressive slavery 

his opposition, based upon economic considerations, which has been given 
in an earlier chapter. — Cong. Globe, xxvi, nu ff. 

Speaking of the attitude of the pro-slavery radicals in Missouri to- 
ward the opening of Nebraska Territory, Judge Price said: 

"We were opposed to the opening of any part of the territory of Old 
Missouri Territory to settlement, and for many reasons. It had been set 
aside as the Indian Country. The Government had removed the Eastern 
Indian tribes to that country and covenanted with them that they should 
never be molested in their new home. And this was done with a purpose, 
for if slavery could not go there we wanted no one there except the 
Indians. And there was no necessity for such settlement; millions of acres 
of better land were open to settlement in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, 
Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas. 

"To establish Territories in that country would, we knew, bring up 
the subject of slavery, and its admission or exclusion. We were excluded 
by the Compromise, but Southern men hoped in some way to bring about 
the repeal of that measure in some peaceful manner. Their most cher- 
ished hope for many years was to look upon the old manner of retaining 
the influence of Slave-State and Free-State at a balance in the Union by 
the admission of one slave State and one free State when the time for 
the admission of any part of that domain was demanded by the economic 
conditions of the country. In the meantime we hoped to make four States 
of Texas, and to have slavery established in the country obtained from 
Spain and Mexico." Reported by Mr. Connelley. See also New York 
Tribune, editorial, November 26, 1853; and the Independent, September 
25, 1856. 

148 The significance of this is also brought out in an editorial in the 
New York Tribune, entitled, "Nebraska," November 12, 1853. 


extension party clearly did not feel that the time was 
ripe for the commencement of the struggle in Con- 
egress for the Repeal. In the second place, the re- 
marks of Senator Atchison evince, beyond the pos- 
sibility of mistake, what would be his attitude upon 
the question of Repeal if such a movement appeared 
feasible. It is only the utter hopelessness of accom- 
plishing the Repeal that induced him to support this 
Nebraska bill with the retention of the Missouri 
Compromise restriction. Should circumstances ever 
arise which seemed to hold out the faintest hope of 
success, he most assuredly would be found in active 
support of the Repeal : a fortiori, would he champion 
the Repeal if upon it his own political self-preserva- 
tion seemed to depend. And the course of Benton 
in Missouri presently forced him into that position. 
With the adjournment of Congress in March, 
1853, we are brought to the very threshold of the 
campaign which makes the year 1853 memorable 
both in state and national history. All the various 
elements, factors and issues which were to play im- 
portant parts in the final struggle over the senatorial 
succession in Missouri have now been introduced. 

We have seen the original impulse for the or- 
ganization of Nebraska Territory arising from stra- 
tegic or military considerations and quickly dying 
out. Almost simultaneously with the beginning of 
the Missouri dissensions an apparently isolated re- 
vival of interest in Nebraska appeared in that State. 
Another revival followed closely upon Colonel Ben- 
ton's retirement from the Senate and election to the 
House. This revival occurred contemporaneously 


in two different quarters, in such proximity geo- 
graphically and temporally as to suggest cooperation 
or collusion. These movements appear to have con- 
verged and united at Washington in December, 1852, 
and to have been instrumental in effecting the pas- 
sage of Mr. Hall's Nebraska bill by the House. 149 
Although this bill failed in the Senate, Congress 
made an appropriation for the extinguishment of 
Indian titles in Nebraska as a preliminary to the 
early establishment of a territorial government. By 
the close of the year 1852 the Missouri public were 
apprised by Colonel Benton of the intimate connec- 
tion between the creation of the new Territory and 
the construction of the Pacific railroad. About the 
time of the earlier revival of interest in Nebraska 
and when the Missouri dissensions w r ere becoming 
acute the Missouri Legislature passed a formal en- 
dorsement of the Missouri Compromise. Apparent- 
ly as a rejoinder to this, came the passage of the Jack- 
son Resolutions followed by the bitter schism in the 
Democracy and a political upheaval throughout the 
State. It is possible to regard the Jackson Resolu- 
tions as disguising a purpose or design, at least a dis- 
position, to abrogate the Missouri Compromise at 
some indefinite future time, or at any rate, to justify 
its abrogation. Back of all the warring of factions 

149 From the evidence at hand it is impossible to determine how much 
credit is due respectively to the Missouri source and to the Nebraska source. 
In his speech of May 16, 1S54, Hon. S. Mayall, a Representative from 
Maine, made the following reference to the efforts of Guthrie during the 
winter of 1852-53: "In October, 1852, the people of Nebraska elected a 
delegate who came to the capital, and as all know who were members 
of the last Congress, urged with great zeal the organization of a govern- 
ment for that Territory." — Cong. Globe, xxxi, 715. 


- and bandying of epithets lay the hope cherished by 

- Mr. Calhoun's disciples of repealing the Missouri 
Compromise at the earliest opportune moment. 
Naturally, however, they wished to select that mo- 
ment themselves, and did not care to have the issue 
forced upon them before they were ready. The 
question of slavery in the proposed Territory, we 
have seen making its first public appearance in the 

^winter of 1852-53, at which time the two Missouri 
Senators, and especially Mr. Atchison, opposed the 
creation of the new territorial government. The 
latter opposed it avowedly because the slaveholders 
of Missouri would be prevented by the Compromise 
prohibition from taking their slave property into the 
new Territory. 

It is not difficult to anticipate, from what has 
preceded, the attitude which Benton and Atchison 
would probably assume in case an issue arose which 
involved the retention or the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise in a new Territory west of Missouri. 
From the letter of Guthrie, who was in a position to 
know, and from the Cape Girardeau county speech 
it was perfectly clear that Benton favored the new 
territorial project. -'That he would oppose any at- 
tempt to repeal the Missouri Compromise was be- 
yond question. The power of Congress under the 
Constitution to exclude slavery from the Territories, 
he staunchly upheld. Mr. Atchison, on the other 
hand, vigorously denied that Congress had such 


The Missouri Senatorial Campaign of 1853-Controversy over 
the Legality of "Immediate" Settlement in Nebraska-Atchison 
is Forced to Champion the Repeal. 

We are now prepared to enter upon the stirring 
events of the summer and autumn of 1853, and to 
see how circumstances combined to produce condi- 
tions out of which emerged the suggestion for the re- 
peal of the Missouri Compromise in connection with 
the Nebraska territorial bill in 1854. 

Of what had been taking place in Missouri dur- 
ing the winter of 1852-53 when both the State Legis- 
lature and Congress were in session, we have almost 
no detailed information. The winter had scarcely 
passed when hostilities between the old factions were 
vigorously renewed. 

Although the Legislature which would choose 
Senator Atchison's successor would not be elected un- 
til the summer of 1854, the spring of 1853 was none 
too early to commence the life and death struggle be- 
tween the factions which for eight years had been 
contending for the supremacy. Shortly before the 
adjournment of the Legislature on the twenty-fourth 
of February, 1853, Colonel Benton announced that 
he would be "in the field for reelection to the Senate 
of the United States at the next regular session" of 


the General Assembly. 150 Not long after this, 151 the 
Jefferson Inquirer sounded the clarion call to battle 
in an editorial entitled, "A WORD TO THE DEMO- 
CRATS," in which all "sound" Democrats were urged 
to awake and prepare for the contest to replace Ben- 
ton in the Senate. The challenge was soon formally 
accepted by Senator Atchison who joined issue in no 
equivocal terms: "I will cheerfully surrender my 
seat in the United States Senate to any honest and 
sound Democrat. But I can never willingly surren- 
der it to Colonel Benton." 152 

There were those who scented the impending 
battle from afar. "Mr. Benton will take a position 
of antagonism to the Missouri division of the Admin- 
istration party," wrote the Washington Correspond- 
ent of the New York Courier. 1 ™ 

"He is going home to engage in a contest against organiza- 
tions, against the State convention, caucuses, 1S4 and other ma- 
chinery by which the leaders there are seeking to protect themselves 
against the force of his individual will, eloquence and energy. 
Mr. Benton is resolved to procure the reversal of that decision 
against his famous 'Appeal' in 1851 which sent Mr. Geyer to the 
Senate in his place. To this end he means to enter upon a can- 
vass of the State for the election of a majority of unpledged and 
independent Democratic candidates to the Legislature, in order 
to oust Mr. Atchison from the Senate and get himself in. In this 

130 This appears from a portion of a letter of Colonel Benton quoted 
in an address of certain Democratic members of the Legislature to their 
constituents. See National Intelligencer, March 10, 1853. 

151 April 9, 1853. 

'52 Missouri Republican, June 22, 1853. 

153 Quoted in the Missouri Sentinel, March 24, 1853. 

1 54 Benton's "hatred of dictation was such that he would never attend 
a caucus of any kind." — Rogers's Benton, 318. 


work he well knows that he must expect the opposition and not 
the aid of the Administration." 155 

With surprising accuracy, the Correspondent 
then added this prediction of the outcome: 

"But with all his resources and his indomitable resolution and 
his strongly versatile and active mind, the old Senator will be 
beaten and will die disappointed and disconsolate. Party discipline 
will overcome even such as he." 

"There can be no mistaking the signs of the 
times," began an editorial forecast and review of the 
press alignment a few weeks later. 156 

"A fiercer war is about to be waged between the Benton 
and Democratic factions in this State than has ever been known. 
The newspapers as well as the politicians have taken sides and all 
seem ready for the fray. Colonel Benton, so far as we have 
observed, has only two papers arrayed in his support, the St. Louis 
Democrat and the Jefferson Inquirer. They are to be reenforced 
by the Gazette at St. Joseph under a new editor (L. J. Eaton). 
On the other side there is the Examiner at Jefferson City, the 
Chronicle at Lexington, the Northeastern Reporter at Canton, the 
Banner at Glasgow, the Chronicle at Bloomington, the Hannibal 

Courier, we believe, and one of the papers at Springfield 

It is going to be a great fight, and whatever party triumphs a 
goodly number will be left dead on the field." 

15 5 This break with the Administration seems to have occurred some 
time in the summer of 1853. The immediate occasion, in brief, seems to 
have been the ignoring of the Benton faction and the recognition of 
Atchison, in the distribution of Federal patronage, especially in the ap- 
pointment of an anti-Bentonite as postmaster at St. Louis. So incensed 
was Benton at this, that he immediately made arrangements for the trans- 
mission and delivery of all his correspondence by express, and gave public 
notice of this arrangement in the leading newspapers in the State. See 
New York Tribune, August 30, 1853. 

156 The Missouri Republican, April 15, 1853. The Republican was a 
Whig organ. During the early part of the campaign of 1853 it maintained 
a neutral position very well; but as the campaign waxed hotter, it became 
more antagonistic toward Benton, although at all "times it was free from 
the passion and partisanship of its Democratic contemporaries. 


Apparently the months of March and April, 
1853, were passed by the politicians in quietly mak- 
ing their plans and perfecting their machines. The 
"Antis," if one may believe the Jefferson Inquirer, 
were "playing a desperate game to beat Colonel Ben- 
ton for the Senate," and were "manifesting a zeal 
worthy of a better cause," leaving "no means untried 
for accomplishing their purposes." 157 It was not 
until May, when Colonel Benton had returned to 
Missouri, that the letter-writing and speech-making 
began in earnest. 

Eagerly did the Bentonites seize upon the fact 
that David R. Atchison, one of the most pronounced 
opponents of the exclusion of slavery from the Ter- 
ritories, after strenuously opposing the Nebraska bill, 
had, nevertheless, come around finally to its support. 
Upon it they predicated repeated and elaborate 
charges of the grossest inconsistency and utmost un- 
reliability. The Jefferson Inquirer, the staunchest 
and most influential of the Benton newspapers, in an 
editorial entitled, "ATCHISON VS. ATCHISON," re- 
minded its readers of the emphatic language which 
Atchison had used to Guthrie upon the subject, and 
proceeded to excoriate Mr. Atchison in the follow- 
ing terms: 158 

"The dead duck, having caved in and renigged upon the 
fundamental position of anti-Bentonism, to wit, that Congress has 
no power to legislate upon slavery in the territories, and having 
by his death-bed and post-mortem adhesion to the Nebraska terri- 
torial bill explicitly acknowledged such power in Congress, and 
actually sanctioned its abolition in all the upper Louisiana territory 

157 Issue of April 27, 1853. 

158 Issue of May 21, 1853. 


north of 36 3c/, it becomes useful to look into some of his 
previous pledges on the subject to see that either now in admitting 
the power, or formerly in denying it, he has been a hypocrite and 
double-dealer, either false to the people of Missouri to whom he 
owes respect and gratitude, or false to the Constitution of the 
United States which he is under oath to support. 

"It will be remembered that in 1849 Mr. Atchison published 
a letter on the subject of the nullification resolutions, the funda- 
mental one of which and which was the basis of all the rest, 
denied the same power to Congress and made its exercise a cause 
of dissolution of the Union. In that letter thus published there 
occurs among many similar passages the following: 

" 'Congress can no more constitutionally prohibit the slave- 
holder from Missouri from settling in the Territories of the 
United States with his slaves, than the Rhode Islander with his 
machinery, or the Methodist, Presbyterian, Turk or Mormon 
with his religion. It is in vain to hope that this question [con- 
cerning the power of Congress to legislate upon slavery in the 
Territories] can be compromised or in any way satisfactorily set- 
tled without united and determined resistance. In conclusion, 
fellow citizens, I will say that as Senator I will oppose all legis- 
lation of Congress which has for its object an interference with 
the domestic institutions, or which will prevent any citizen of a 
slave State from emigrating to the Territories of the United 
States with his slaves.' 159 

"The way he talked and swore at the same time was awful 
to hear. A favorite form of swearing with him then was this: 
'I would see the United States split into as many parts as there 
are counties in the Union before I would see the Wilmot Proviso 
passed, or any act done by Congress, which would sanction the 
expulsion of slavery from any territory or prevent our southern 
brethren from going with their slaves to any land gained by the 
common blood and treasure.' 

"At many times he swore he would be 'tarred and feathered,' 
'would be hanged and quartered,' 'would be torn to pieces by wild 
horses hitched to each arm and leg,' 'that he would resign and 

159 The italics are mine. 


quit the State,' before he would ever submit to such a violation of 
the Constitution, and such an 'insult' to the South, as the exclusion 
of slavery from any Territory of the United States would be. 

"In that way he continued swearing for about the space of 
three years and nine months, viz., from the spring of 1849 to the 
winter of 1852-53, at which latter time he still swore thus to 
Mr. Abelard Guthrie of Nebraska: 'I had rather see the whole 
Territory sunk in hell, than to see it organized as free territory!' 

"Thus the brave Davy Atchison spoke and swore for the 
space of near four years, and until after the Nebraska bill, despite 
the traitorous and clandestine opposition of Phelps and Atchison, 
and the cold and silent opposition of Geyer, had passed the House 
of Representatives and had been favorably reported by the Com- 
mittee of the Senate and until after it had been killed by the 
criminal delay to call it up; after all that and without regard to 
his four years swearing, and for the purpose of deceiving his con- 
stituents, he 'renigged,' 'caved-in,' jumped the fence, abandoned 
all his principles in relation to the powers of Congress in abolishing 
it in as much territory as would make fourteen large States. ..." 

The two subjects upon which public interest 
focused in the campaign of 1853 were the railroad 
to the Pacific and the early organization of Nebraska 
Territory involving the question of slavery. Over 
these topics arose the main issues of that memorable 
campaign. "Slavery Whigs and Slavery Democrats 
were on one side; those favoring the continuation of 
the Compromise being on the other, almost to the 
disregard of party lines, especially toward the close 
of the contest." 160 

16 Judge Price, as reported by Mr. Connelley. Judged by his re- 
marks in the Senate, March 3, 1853, it seems probable that Senator Atchi- 
son had not been kept fully informed of the growth of a strong sentiment 
in the western part of the State favorable to the immediate repeal of the 
Compromise which apparently had developed rapidly after he had left the 
State in the preceding November. At any rate that sentiment did not 
appear to him in March to be of strength sufficient to warrant his advocat- 
ing the Repeal in Congress. 


Benton soon visited the western counties which 
formed Atchison's political "stamping ground" 161 
and found the inhabitants of that section of the State 
feverish to get over the river into the rich lands of 
Nebraska. 162 In their eagerness he perceived the 
opportunity of making much-needed political capital 
for himself, at the expense of his rival. By advo- 
cating the immediate occupation of Nebraska by 
white people and by pledging himself to champion 
the territorial measure before the next Congress, he 
would stand an excellent chance of transferring from 
Atchison to himself the political allegiance of the 
populous frontier counties. 

Thus to carry the war boldly into Africa ap- 
pealed with irresistible force to a politician of Ben- 
ton's extraordinary aggressiveness. It mattered little 
that during his thirty years as Senator he had never 
exhibited any active interest in opening Nebraska 
to settlement. It was much more to his present pur- 
pose to make it appear that Atchison, although for 
some years chairman of the Senate Committee on 
Indian Affairs, had totally neglected the interests of 
his immediate constituents in paying no attention to 
the treaties by which the desirable lands in Nebraska 
had been assigned to the Indians, with a view to the 
possible opening of those lands to the occupation of 

161 Atchison resided in Platte City from 1841 to 1856; Paxton's Annals, 


162 Hemp-raising by slave labor was becoming an important industry 
in western Missouri, and it was known to the people of that region that 
lands equally good for hemp-raising lay in adjacent parts of Nebraska. — 
Paxton's Annals, 63 ff; Missouri Republican, June 23, 1854; John A. 
Parker's What Led to the War (see Appendix D) ; the Independent, 
September 25, 1856. 


Missourians. Every one knew that Atchison had 
been strongly opposed to the Nebraska bill in the ses- 
sion of Congress just ended, and only with the utmost 
reluctance had finally brought himself to its support. 
With almost equal ease it could be proved that he 
had made no effectual attempt so to construe existing 
Indian treaties and Acts of Congress as to authorize 
the immediate occupation of Nebraska lands by 
white people. Mr. Atchison might thus be placed 
under the initial disadvantage of having to act on the 
defensive. Benton on the other hand could boldly 
assert that as long as Atchison remained in the Senate 
and Benton remained out of it, there was no prospect 
of the early opening of Nebraska to settlement. 

Colonel Benton's first move in the execution of 
this plan of campaign appeared in May, 1853. Some 
of his Democratic friends among the citizens of Cole 
county had invited him to speak to them upon the 
subject of "the great road to the Pacific." In ac- 
cepting their invitation 163 he availed himself of the 
opportunity to announce a new and startling proposi- 
tion concerning the right of white people to settle in 
Nebraska even before the establishment of a terri- 
torial government: 

"Gentlemen : When I return to Missouri I shall do myself 
the pleasure to comply with your invitation and speak to you on 
the subject which you mention, that of the great road to the 

Pacific But my design in this answer to your letter is to 

speak to a practical point, and to remove some errors in relation 
to Indian titles on the line of the road west of Missouri and which 
were not cleared up in the debates on the Nebraska bill at the 
last session of Congress. It seemed to be taken for granted that 

163 Dated May 3, 1853; in the Jefferson Inquirer, June 6, 1853. 


the whole country out to the Rocky Mountains was covered by 
Indian titles. Not so the fact, only a small part of it: 164 the 
case is this. Near thirty years ago the United States extinguished 
the Indian titles to all this country, Indians retaining small reser- 
vations and the rest being intended for emigrating tribes, of which 
only a small part (directly west of Missouri) had been allotted 
to them. The Pawnees relinquished all their title south of the 
Great Platte, and this went up to the Rocky Mountains, they 
taking a reservation on the north side of the river. The Kansas 
relinquished all as far as they claimed to the head of the Kansas 
river, and to the division ground between the Kansas and Arkansas 
rivers. The Osages ceded all the country on both sides of the 
Arkansas and out to Red river. Out of this cession the Kansas 
Indians received a strip thirty miles wide on the Kansas river, 
running above the junction of the Republican and Smoky Hill 
forks, but including very little of these forks; and the Osages 
reserved a parallelogram on the Arkansas nearly opposite the 
southwest corner of the State. The Shawnees and Delawares had 
strips assigned them adjoining the Kansas reservation on the north 
and south, and half a dozen fragments of tribes had small assign- 
ments, some on the Missouri line south of the Kansas and some 
on the river north, and none running far back. 

"The reservations and assignments west of Missouri comprise 
a part of the great territory acquired from the Pawnees, Kansas 
and Osages; further south the Cherokees, Creeks and Choctaws 
have it all; but west from Missouri the large purchase remains 
more than three-fourths United States territory ivhere citizens 
may settle without interfering with Indian rights. The boundaries 
of the Indian lands can be easily ascertained as they lie in the 
eastern part of the great territory near to our own settlements. 
All the lands not included in these reservations and grants are 

164 The italics in this letter are Benton's. These assertions concerning 
the immediate right of white men to enter and settle in Nebraska even 
before the establishment of a territorial government were reiterated by 
Colonel Benton in a letter to C. F. Holly of Savannah, dated May 15, 1853, 
replying to an invitation to speak in that locality, and in speeches delivered 
at Kansas City, Weston and Independence in the course of the next few 
months. — The Missouri Republican, May 17 and June 22, 1853. 


United States territory and in two places it comes down to our 
own boundary: one between the Osages' reservation and the re- 
serves and grants on the Kansas, and covers the upper waters of 
the Neosho and Osage, and part of the Smoky Hill fork; the 
other, on the north of the Kickapoo grant. West of the different 
Indian grants and reserves all is open out to the mountains. This 
includes fine country, the whole course of the Upper Arkansas, 
nearly the whole of the Smoky Hill and Republican forks, with 
the Vermillion and all the southern waters of the Platte, and 
embracing land as fine as any in Missouri and valuable from 
its locality. The present Santa Fe Road goes through it after 
emerging from the Shawnee grant and the great Pacific railway, 
if it takes the Central route, will traverse it from one end to the 
other, from the Missouri frontier to the head of the Huerfano 
about half way to California, all rich land and the country so 
broad and open that the engineer might take his course for the 
road by compass as a ship takes her course at sea. Thus three- 
fourths of the country which lies west of the Missouri frontier 
out to the Rocky Mountains is free from Indian title; and from 
its beauty, fertility, salubrity, and geographical position must 
speedily attract the preemptor and cultivator. 

"Considering the settlement of this country as intimately 
connected with the location, construction and support of the great 
central railroad, I have taken the trouble to examine maps and 
treaties to verify these statements of Indian lands and United 
States territory west of our State; and with a view to show 
where settlements can be made without infringing on Indian 
rights. There is territory there open to settlement enough to 
make a great State, in a temperate climate, much of it fertile and 
on the straight course to San Francisco. Both the Kansas and 
the upper Arkansas are rich and beautiful, and as high up as the 
Pueblos, far above Bent's Fort, good crops are raised and stock 
provides for itself winter as well as summer, without food or 
shelter from their owners. 

"There was a great objection to the Nebraska bill last winter 
in Congress because the territory had but few inhabitants. That 
objection need to apply no longer, and the hardy pioneer, that 


meritorious citizen whose enterprise, courage and industry is worth 
so much to his country should lose no time in commencing his 
preemption settlement. 

"Respectfully your obliged fellow citizen, 

"Thomas H. Benton." 

With the publication of the Cole county letter 
a heated controversy immediately arose between Sen- 
ator Atchison and Colonel Benton regarding the 
legality of immediate settlement in Nebraska. The 
Weston Reporter inquired of Mr. Atchison whether, 
in his opinion, any portion of Nebraska was then 
open to legal settlement by white men. To this in- 
quiry he replied in a speech delivered at Weston, 
Missouri, on the eleventh of June, 1853. He then 
said: 165 

"The Act of 1834 t0 regulate the intercourse with the Indians 
and to preserve peace upon the frontiers declared that territory 
to be Indian territory, and forbade its occupation by white men, 
except only officers and men in the government employ, traders 
there by special permission, and white men who may have married 
among Indians. It is the duty of military officers and Indian 
Agents to prevent white settlers from locating in the territory." 

"In consequence of this contradiction and not 
because it contradicted" him, "but was calculated to 
do great injury to the people" of the State, Benton 
applied to the Department of the Interior at Wash- 

165 This speech at Weston seems to have been substantially the same 
in other respects as one delivered by Atchison at Platte City five days before. 
An editorial in the Missouri Republican of June 8 thus referred to these 
speeches: "Senator Atchison. This gentleman is in the field making 
his appeal to the people of Missouri. We learn that he was to address 
the people at Platte City on Saturday last; and that on Saturday next he 
will speak at Weston. The principal topic of his speeches, we are given 
to understand, will be 'Nebraska' and 'the Road to India.' Public curiosity 
will be excited to hear what he has to say on these heads." The speeches 
are reported in the Missouri Republican, June 22, 1853. 


ington for information "which being official may 
defy contradiction from any quarter." 166 On the 
second of July, he sent a map to Mr. Mix, Chief 
Clerk of the Department of the Interior, and with it 
this note: 167 

"C. St., July 2. 
"Mr. Mix, Dear Sir, 

"Please have the western boundary line of Missouri laid down 
on this map and the outline of the Pawnee, Kansas and Osage 
Purchases, and the reservations as they now stand within that out- 
line. You need not show each purchase but the outline of the 
whole. Yours truly, 

"Thomas H. Benton." 

On the eighth the map was returned to Colonel 
Benton accompanied by the following note from the 
Commissioner of Indian Affairs: 

"Department of the Interior, 
"Office Indian Affairs, July 8, 1853. 

"Agreeably to your request of the 2d instant I have the honor 
to return herewith the map you sent to this office with an outline 
colored green of the Pawnee, Kansas and Osage purchases lying 
west of the Missouri line marked thereon. The several tracts 
of country that have been reserved or ceded to various Indian 
tribes within the territory purchased, as also those situated imme- 
diately north and bordering thereon are respectively designated 
in varied colors, which it is hoped will answer the purpose of 
your request. Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

"George W. Manypenny, Comr. 

"Hon. Thomas H. Benton, C. St., 
"Washington, D. C." 168 

166 The phrases quoted are from Benton's Monroe county letter. 

167 Published in the Missouri Republican, September 16, 1853. 


Col. Benton wrote another letter to his con- 
stituents between the eighth and thirtieth of July 169 
in which he explains in greater detail than in his 
Cole county letter his views of the state of the laws 
and treaties relating to the Nebraska country. This 
letter, clearly intended for publication, was addressed 
to the citizens of Monroe County in response to an 
invitation to visit the county and address the people 
on "the great subject of the day, that of a railroad to 
the Pacific Ocean." "Connected with this road," he 
repeated, "and as one of the facilities for making it 
is the desirable object of settling the country west of 
Missouri out to New Mexico and Utah; and I have 
the gratification to inform you," he adds, " . . . . 
that there is nothing in the state of our Indian rela- 
tions to prevent it." He again presented in detail 
the nature and extent of the cessions and reservations 
made by the Indians in the region west of Missouri, 
and alluded to the fact that he had sent the map 
mentioned above "to be engraved and published for 
the public information," claiming that it supported 
his main contention. Finally, after having present- 
ed these points, he reached a conclusion which in- 
volved an admission eagerly seized upon by Mr. 

"I therefore consider the cessions of 1825 and 1833 from the 
Kansas and Osages and Pawnees (so far as they have not been 
reserved or ceded to the Indians) to be like any other lands to 

168 This letter appeared in the Missouri Republican, September 16, 

169 I have been unable after a lengthy search to discover the exact date 
of this letter but feel certain that it must have been written between the 
dates mentioned. 


5 bees ' - ' say, I n I 

and although there r.- Conp Idimg 

■ the Unit States Land, yet we all 
ssed • policy was 

it ki that fie] are « <;\ 

.:.-.- - in one hun- 

dred anc sixl ig drag die v 

:h: G 

Nf ic :. se I the Letter Benton could not 
esist the temptai it bave a thrust at Atchis 
the rest of me Missouri ielegal a in Congress: 

"I cons :nfortun..: no person in Cor_ 

knew the condition of the w es te rn territory when die N 

.. .. - .; blown it 

and merely sent a note to the Commissioner or Indian Affa 
asking to have the Indian reservations and grants marked oft it 
would have put an end to all the lamentations about the 

ghts • ch the t Houses ties " 

entertained and would have put an end to all the 

line of 182c. N 'ill be met with the map and 

all their Indian tears will be dried up." 170 

The the Benl a nc s in the State 

?hat they regard* 5 the mplete humiliation 

1T9 la J rf ei s on Imc - talks are mine. The 

rmtxmel, looking upon the Monroe cocr etna 2$ a 

.- _-•-.. -.;.;r: ::-:::::: '•"■ " - v - : - ' -■ - ••- - - * ^J- -n^zy 

will hare been prepared by Beaton for the rise of that future 'central 
star of the famed -Constellation.' When the central route shall be located, 

■ _ ■ ■ y .-■ - -<::;-- r..« : < -■.<;£:-< ::.i: '•' -v _r: ir.i Me b rasi i, 
twin sisters in { »« " «»" " and destiny, will owe it that they shall become the 

and the garden spot for its supplies. When that grand highway itself 
shall hare been completed, the hot that shall grace the tallest peak of 
the Rocky Mountains, next to Cohimbus, will be that of Benton, looking 
like that mwiwntd navigator, westward for the East, towards 

• ;: • ; '--?->- :-;--- A.-.f: :: :>fj 


of Atchison, knew no bounds. ''Benton's triumph 
is complete, " said the St. Louis Evening Neu 
"and Atchison's disgrace is unlimited." 
"For ten year tinued the same paper 

chairman of the Committee on Inc re and liv ng it 

0: Nebraska for mar .;.■;••- re longer, and ;. 

of the condition and proprietorship E thai But in 1 

ignorance he stood up before * 

prop':- • - ' I ' •'• to 

be thus shown up before the people of Mis- 
represents so outrageously by his oppo ; • - 
him resign and hide himself in sha: he 

be. His ignorance --ditable to the State and 1 I ns / 

he has held All honor to Benton! . . . ." 

To the various positions assumed by Benton in 
the Cole count}- and Monroe county le::-:: ; senator 
Atchison replied in speeches at Parfcville 172 on the 
sixth of August and at Fayette in November. 173 He 
took up in detail each of the Indian treaties, cessions 
and reservations and the Acts of Congress referred 
to bv Benton, and endeavored to refute Benton's in- 
terpretation of them. 

In the course of his reply at Parkville. Atchison 

"Is it not strange, fellow citizens, if Colone. Bent » right 
in his opinion thus expressed that the discovery 1 foi 
time been made by him within the Is it not 

strange that all the country within the bounds •:: Nebraska has 
been deemed and treated as Indian country by our Government 
and by our citizens? But now all at once our old Senator 
broken out, as we ma; n a fresh place.' He has foan : _ 

171 Quoted in Jefferson .' ret July 30, 1 5 5 ; 
-"-Reported in the Misswmri I -/- HS "■- Aagnri j: 1853. 

i"- Reported in the Jererson Inquirer, November :- 


'mare's nest.' But now in what I have said I have done one 
Gen. Sutherland (commonly called 'Old Nebraska') an injustice; 
who, as I am informed, was among you a year or two since beat- 
ing up recruits to settle Nebraska, declaring that this country 
which will be designated on Col. Benton's map, was open for 
settlement. But you declared the man crazy; and the officers of 
the Government threatened him with the penalties of the law. 
But now all is changed. I do not mention Sutherland's name for 
the purpose of depriving Col. Benton of the glory of being the 
discoverer of this new doctrine. Col. Benton admits that there 
are acts of Congress forbidding settlement on the United States 
lands. But he says they are a dead letter on the statute books. 
Now this I deny, not for the purpose of 'contradicting' him but 
because he is mistaken, for the laws are every day enforced by 
the courts. I will not say that he is either ignorant or perverse. 
I also deny that any persons can under any law of Congress obtain 
a preemption right by settling on any land in Nebraska. I deny 
that Col. Benton's map proves anything for him. His position is 
that there is territory in Nebraska open for settlement by white 

men. I deny it. He may be right and I may be wrong 

Instead of calling upon the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 
the map, why did he not simply ask him or the Secretary of the 
Interior for his opinion whether any country west of Missouri 
or Iowa could under the existing laws and treaties be settled by 
white men? If so, what country? This would have settled the 
whole matter with me and would have been more satisfactory to 
our people who desire to emigrate to Nebraska." 

Atchison then went on to say that the day after 
he had read Benton's Monroe county letter he ad- 
dressed a letter to the Secretary of the Interior re- 
questing an official expression of opinion whether any 
portion of the Nebraska Territory was then open to 
settlement by white men, and if so, what portion. 

"If the Secretary," said Atchison, "can consistently with his 

duty answer me then the question is settled I expect an 

answer in a few weeks I have no pride of opinion in the 


matter. I care not whether Col. Benton should be right or 
wrong. Indeed I rather hope that he may be right. Many of 
our citizens are anxious to get into that country. I trust that 
they may be gratified. But Col. Benton says that the opinion I 
expressed dissenting from him was calculated 'to do great injury 
to the people of the State.' Now I do not see how my opinion 
could do the least injury to the people of the State. If they act 
upon it, they can sustain no injury whether I be right or wrong. 
But if they act upon Col. Benton's opinion and he should be 
mistaken in the law, then they will sustain great injury, for it is 
no small matter for a poor man to leave his home and travel hun- 
dreds of miles into the Indian country and then be driven 
back " 

Atchison's letter of inquiry, dated August 3, was 
referred by the Secretary of the Interior to the Com- 
missioner of Indian Affairs for reply. That official 
on the sixteenth of August, sent a long communica- 
tion to Senator Atchison. 174 Omitting its lengthy 

J 74 Printed in the Missouri Republican, August 26, 1853. The italics 
are mine. In his speech at Fayette, Mo., in November, 1853, Atchison is re- 
ported to have asserted, "that Manypenny's letter was shown to the 
Cabinet and contains the views of the Administration and was deemed 
of such importance lest the false views of Benton should have a deleterious 
influence that it was published in the organ of the Administration on the 

evening of the same day upon which it was written " — From 

report of his speech in Jefferson Inquirer, November 14, 1853. See Atchi- 
son's letter, December 21, 1853, in Washington Daily Union, December 
23, 1853. 

It may be interesting to see the way in which a leading Benton organ 
viewed the letter of Manypenny to Atchison. The following is taken from 
an editorial in the St. Joseph Gazette of September 24: ". . . . This 
letter deserves passing notice. It is true as Mr. Manypenny insists, that 
no part of Nebraska strictly speaking is open to settlement, but he is en- 
tirely wrong we apprehend in supposing that it is illegal to settle in 
Nebraska because of the Indian intercourse act. That act forbids settle- 
ment only on Indian land. But it is an abuse of language to call these 
Indian lands to which the Indian title is extinguished. The old act of 
1807 which Col. Benton well called obsolete is the only law in the way of 
the whites settling on the public lands of Nebraska. But Mr. Manypenny 


narrative of the dealings of the Government with the 
various Indian tribes, it is sufficient to quote the con- 
cluding paragraphs which may be regarded as offi- 
cially deciding the points in dispute between Atchi- 
son and Benton. 

"In view of the interest which appears to be taken in this 
subject in the West and of the importance therefore of a proper 
understanding of it, I have extended this communication beyond 

insists that the Indians have the right to hunt on all the lands in Nebraska. 
Here again he is wrong. The vast majority of public lands in Nebraska 
were purchased from the Kansas and Osage Indians. In the treaties with 
these tribes no provision concerning the Indians hunting on the lands ceded 
to the United States is found, and even the provision referred to by Mr. 
Manypenny in the Pawnee treaty is one that can at any time be annulled 
by the President. 

"Mr. Manypenny's letter, however, contains one statement of value to 
those who wish to settle in the territory of Nebraska. He admits that the 
New York Indians have no title to the lands in Nebraska which had been 
set apart for them. These lands containing several million acres, are 
contiguous to the State of Missouri. If Mr. Manypenny is right, then 
there is a large tract of country in Nebraska, south of the Missouri river, 
and adjoining our State, which is at this very time subject to settlement. 
.... The treaty of 1838 requires them to settle on the lands in Nebraska 
within five years from the date thereof, or forfeit their right to the same. 
The five years have long ago elapsed and according to the letter of the 
treaty the New York Indians have no right to any part of the Nebraska 
territory. Whether the Government should enforce the treaty with this 
degree of strictness we are not prepared to say. The lands set apart for 
the New York Indians between the Missouri and Kansas rivers and the 
southern line of the State of Missouri contain 1,824,000 acres, or 1850 

square miles, nearly the size of the Platte Purchase " — In Jefferson 

Inquirer, September 24, 1853. 

It would be interesting, but would consume too much space, to compare 
these different claims with the facts as stated in Miss Anna H. Abel's 
thesis entitled, "Indian Reservations in Kansas and the Extinguishment of 
their Title," in Kansas Hist. Soc. Trans., viii, 72 ff. The same volume also 
contains a table of various Indian reservations in Kansas Territory, with 
the area of each, and outline maps showing reservations in 1846 and in 
1856. The guarantee clauses in the Indian treaties mentioned in 
these discussions are quoted in the speech of Howard of Texas, February 
10, 1853; Cong. Globe, xxvi, 556. 


the ordinary limits of a letter, and although prepared during a 
pressure of business, I have confidence in the narrative of facts 
which it embodies, and from which / am not able to say to you 
that any portion of the country within the limits of the proposed 
Territory of Nebraska is in such condition that the white man 
can lawfully occupy it for settlement. 

"Congress at its last session authorized the President to treat 
with the Indian tribes located along the western boundary of 
Iowa and Missouri and for the purpose of extinguishing their 
title in whole or in part to the country they now occupy and 
measures are in progress to effect that object. 

"Whatever differences of opinion may exist on the question, 

you have propounded, it is confidently expected that no action 

will be taken by any portion of the people which will embarrass 

the Government in the contemplated negotiations with the Indians. 

"Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

"George W. Manypenny, Commissioner. 
"Hon. D. R. Atchison, Platte City, Mo." 

It was now the turn of the newspapers friendly 
to Atchison to exult. Said one of the more mod- 
erate: 17S 

"A more decided victory could not be obtained by one indi- 
vidual over another than Atchison has achieved in this controversy. 
.... It is suggested that Colonel Benton's map of the Nebraska 
Territory will be at a very considerable discount in this State after 
seeing Colonel Manypenny's history of the legislation of Congress 
in regard to the Indian territory." 

In the interval between the writing of the Mon- 
ies The Missouri Republican, August 26, 1853. After the appearance 
of this correspondence the Missouri Republican (Sept. 17, 1853) made this 
comment: "The note of Col. Benton of July 2 asking for the map is a 

remarkable specimen of ostrich diplomacy This note has hitherto 

been suppressed though he published Col. Manypenny's reply to it. Having 
stuck his own head in the bush, he hoped to conceal his design and entrap 
the Commissioner into furnishing a map to go forth without official ex- 
planations; he thought he would be allowed to use it and nobody would 
see the trick. But the Commissioner has been after him and has pretty 
completely stripped him of his plumes." 



roe county letter and the Manypenny letter of 
August 1 6, the map referred to in Benton's corres- 
pondence was published and offered for sale. Short- 
ly after the writing of his letter of the sixteenth, 
Colonel Manypenny visited the Indian tribes located 
in Nebraska and while there a copy of Benton's map 
was brought to his notice. He thereupon immed- 
iately addressed the following communication to the 
Independence (Missouri) Reporter: 176 

"Indian Country, Sept. 7, 1853. 
"To the Editor of the Independence Reporter: Sir: 

"A friend has just placed in my hands a map of a portion 
of the country west of Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas which has 
the following title : 

" 'Official Map of the Indian Reservations in Nebraska Ter- 
ritory Draivn by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs at the Request 
of Colonel Benton and Published to Show the Public Lands 
in the Territory Subject to Settlement.' 177 

"This map appears to have been lithographed by 'Jules 
Hutawa,' St. Louis; and the title is well calculated to deceive the 
reader, for which reason I deem it my duty to say that no such 
map was ever drawn in the Indian Office by me for any such pur- 
pose; 17S and further I deem it my duty to say that in my opinion 
there is not any land in Nebraska Territory subject at this time 
to lawful settlement. 

"Colonel Benton did send to the Indian Department a map 
of the United States and the Territories with the request that the 
outline of certain Indian purchases should be laid down on it, 
with the Indian reservations within the outline, which was done; 

!76This letter appeared in the Missouri Republican, September 17, 
1853. See also New York Tribune, November 7, 1853, quoting the Wash- 
ington Star. 

177 These italics are Manypenny's. My efforts to obtain a copy of 
this map have been unsuccessful. Indeed I have been unable to ascertain 
that a copy is in existence. 

178 These italics are mine. 


but the question as to the views of the office in relation to the right 
to settle Nebraska was not asked. 

"Accompanying this letter I send you a copy of Colonel 
Benton's note to the Indian Office transmitting his map and my 
reply when the work was done and the map returned. It will 
be seen that there is not a word said about the settlement of 
Nebraska. You will please insert them in your paper with this 

"The publication of this map has done Colonel Benton and 
the Indian Office great injustice and the 'Official Map' for the 
purpose intended by him is unworthy of credit and ought not to be 
purchased or circulated. 

"Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

"George W. Manypenny, 
"Commissioner of Indian Affairs." 

Into the details of this controversy over the 
status of Indian lands in Nebraska and the right of 
white men to settle there in the absence of further 
legislation, it is unnecessary to go further. In the 
present connection the controversy is important for 
four main reasons. In the first place, it tends to 
prove that the subject of organizing a territorial 
government in Nebraska was forced to the front in 
the Missouri campaign of 1853, not by the pro- 
slavery following of Atchison, but by the free-soil -" 
element in the Missouri Democracy led by Colonel 
Benton. In the next place it is another indication 
of Colonel Benton's eagerness to crush Atchison and 
of the extreme to which he was willing to go in order 
to accomplish that end. In the third place, back of 
the purely selfish motives by which Benton was un- 
questionably moved, it is possible to discern a motive 
born of his free-soil sympathies and his antipathy to 
slavery extension. The subject of the early repeal 


of the Missouri Compromise had become so bruited 
about among the politicians by the early part of the 
summer of 1853 that Benton was undoubtedly aware 
of what his enemies ultimately hoped to achieve in 
this particular. He may have reasoned that they 
were unprepared to take up the fight for the Repeal, 
and that by forcing the settlement of Nebraska at the 
earliest possible moment, even at the cost of a very 
loose interpretation of existing statutes, the move- 
ment for the Repeal might be killed in its infancy, 
and a new State consecrated to Freedom. Finally, 
the controversy had the effect of arousing or stimu- 
lating a certain, or rather an uncertain, degree of 
active and aggressive interest among Missourians in 
the opening of the new Territory to white settlement. 
Upon the latter point a few words more need to be 

If we may believe the statements of an ardent 
Benton paper, multitudes eagerly accepted Benton's 
interpretation of the law respecting settlement in 
Nebraska. The organ referred to said in November, 


"We have the best of authority for saying that the emigra- 
tion to Nebraska is surprisingly great. Trains of wagons may 
be seen from day to day advancing upon that Territory. The 
knowledge of its genial climate and fertile soil which lias been 
widely diffused through the agency of Colonel Benton and the 

press is now producing its legitimate results It is not alone 

from Missouri the columns proceed which are debouching on 
Nebraska. Kentucky and other adjacent States are pouring 
streams into the reservoir. Go ahead! Missouri and Kentucky. 

179 The Iowa Republican, November 23, 1853, quoting the St. Louis 
Democrat. This is briefly contradicted in the New York Tribune, Novem- 
ber 12, 1853. 


.... You are adjured by a cabal of screaming Hypocrites to 
keep aloof from Nebraska. They cry out when you approach 
it as if it was the holy of holies. They put forward as a pretext 
the right of the red man, but the real cause is because you can 
[not] be introduced by a negro. The white man forsooth must 
only enter into Nebraska by the aid and companionship of a black 
man, as if that country was destined to be a mere slavery nursery 
on an Indian preserve. 

"You must walk on tiptoe when you come in view of the 
boundaries of that Territory and not with the firm and advancing 
stride of your ancestor. But it is evident that you have not the 
fear of that croaking cabal before your eyes, who are trying to 
frighten you away by flapping the shreds of an obsolete law in 
your westward looking eyes. Be not afraid. The intrigues of 
that official who haunted the wigwams of the Indians to incite 
them to murder you will be exposed when Congress meets." 180 

After making considerable allowance for parti- 
san exaggeration, one may safely conclude that Ben- 
ton's attempts to rouse popular interest in the imme- 
diate settlement of Nebraska were not wholly fu- 
tile. 181 

Benton's disconcerting aggressiveness, further- 
more, in declaring Nebraska legally open to settle- 
ment, as well as his misrepresentations of Atchison's 
attitude toward the Pacific railroad — although in- 
jurious to himself in the end — had the immediate 
effect of seriously weakening Atchison's position by 
compelling him to act upon the defensive, a position 
which no politician with a formidable antagonist 
relishes, and the seriousness of his position was aggra- 
vated by the general interest felt in the subject. 

180 An allusion to Col. Manypenny's visit to Nebraska. 

181 See the New York Tribune, July 12, and November 26, 1853, quot- 
ing the St. Louis Democrat. 


Said one of the prominent anti-Benton news- 



"In this question (shall Nebraska come into the Union?) 
all are interested ; it touches the interest of Missouri, and indeed 
in it is involved the prosperity of the Union. 

"The people will not become apprised of these facts until the 
question is agitated in the public journals; there is an indifference 
on the public mind, an apathy, which is unaccountable. This 
supineness should be shaken off and this subject viewed in all its 
bearings in order that a healthy state of opinion may be aroused 
before has come the tug of war. 

"Efforts have been made and ere long they will be repeated 
to establish a regular territorial government in Nebraska, which 
will be succeeded in unless efforts are made to prevent it, after 
which application will be made for admission as a State and as a 
free State. 

"Who will doubt but that Nebraska will be a free State, if 
she be allowed to come in at all? By the Missouri Compromise 
all or the greater part of Nebraska is free territory. But if the 
Compromise is disregarded — still no other conclusion can be 
formed, if we suffer experience to teach us." 

From such comments as this, and from the in- 
creasingly bitter personal attacks upon Benton, 183 it 

182 The Jefferson Examiner, quoted in the Jefferson Inquirer, October 
22, 1853. No more is quoted than is given above. 

183 In the latest of Atchison's speeches delivered in the campaign of 
1853, of which I have found any report, namely, the one delivered at 
Fayette early in November, occurs the following diatribe: 

"As an instance of his egotism and effrontery in his Monroe county 
letter, Colonel Benton writes that Atchison does not contradict him. But 
all this slang of Benton's would have been unnoticed by him [Atchison] 
had it not been for the injustice Benton was doing the people, saying 
nothing of his fulsome falsehoods, to say nothing of his lies. Benton's 
arguments upon this subject [the right of immediate settlement in Ne- 
braska] would disgrace any pettifogger in the State; false conclusions 
drawn from stupid assumptions were characteristic of the man. In his 
monomania the ignis fatuus self obscures every shadow of self-respect or 
regard for the truth. Nothing is too high or holy for his animadversion 
and misrepresentation. In him the honors of office and the gray hairs 
of age are alike prostituted to the unholy purpose of giving credit to his 


is obvious that Senator Atchison was not experiencing 
any feeling of assurance of ultimate victory over 
Benton. Indeed the political situation throughout the 
summer and fall of 1853 was full of difficulty for 
Mr. Atchison. 

In order to recover the ground lost as a result 
of Benton's unexpected manoeuvres, Atchison could 
not fail to perceive that he too must assume at the 
earliest possible moment an aggressive Nebraska pol- 
icy. At the same time he was confronted by 
his inconsistency in having first opposed and finally 
supported, in the face of his radical pro-slavery ut- 
terances, a Nebraska territorial bill retaining the 
Missouri Compromise restriction. Stung by the 
newspaper attacks of which an example has been 
quoted from the Jefferson Inquirer, Atchison real- 
ized that to regain the confidence of his constituents, 
he must explain to them even more fully and satis- 
factorily than he had explained to the Senate the 
reasons for his recent inconsistency. For the future 
the only course open to him was to assume a position 
in regard to Nebraska which should not only har- 
monize both with his former pro-slavery utterances 
and with the interests of his slaveholding constituents 
and the desire of the western section of the State for 
the early organization of the new Territory, but 

filthy vituperations. Even Congress by him is dragged from the high 
position of reflecting the sentiments of an intelligent and virtuous people 
to the lewd embrace of a common courtesan. 'From the abundance of the 
heart the mouth speaketh' is an assertion of Holy Writ that points to the 
steeps from which emanates all this loathsome effluvia, Benton's heart, the 
blackness of whose conceptions would induce a Nero to pluck it from his 
polluted bosom; and yet he would sit as an umpire upon the action of 

Congress which he denounces for its ignorance and stupidity " 

Reported in the Jefferson Inquirer, November 14, 1853. 


which should also be essentially different from Ben- 
ton's Nebraska policy. As early as his speeches at 
Weston and Platte City in June, 184 Senator Atchison 
seems to have discovered the best, in fact the only, 
card to play with the prospect of winning; and as 
the campaign progressed he played that card with in- 
creasing assurance and aggressiveness — one may al- 
most say desperation. He took great pains in these 
speeches and in his speeches at Parkville 185 in Au- 
gust, and at Fayette in November, 1853, 186 to define 
his position with reference to Nebraska. One reason 
offered in explanation of his early opposition to the 
Nebraska bill was based upon the same economic 
consideration which he had stated to the Senate. A 
second reason was based upon Indian considerations: 

"All the [Nebraska] territory of much value was in the 
possession and occupation of various tribes of Indians. This pos- 
session and occupation was guaranteed by treaties, and with some 
of those tribes we had stipulations not to form a territorial or 

state government It therefore becomes necessary for us 

before a government can be organized to maintain inviolate our 
plighted faith by extinguishing the Indian titles to the land and 
obtain their consent to the formation of a territorial or state 


The third and most important reason of all 
related to the subject of slavery in the new Territory, 
and upon this Senator Atchison made a special effort 
to clarify and emphasize his position, past, present 
and future. At Weston and Platte City he said: 

184 June 6 and n, respectively. Reported in the Missouri Republican, 
June 22, 1853. 

185 August 6. Reported in Missouri Republican, August 31, 1853. 

186 Reported in Jefferson Inquirer, November 14, 1853. 

187 Quoted from the speeches at Weston and Platte City. 


Colonel Benton and others "had assumed that slavery was 
excluded from that Territory by the law commonly called the 
Missouri Compromise. If so, / was then and am now opposed 
to interfering with that Territory unless that restriction can be re- 
moved. 188 I was in favor of, and did vote for, the appropriation 
of money to enable the President to make treaties with the In- 
dians to extinguish their title to lands upon which they reside, and 
to obtain their consent to the organization of a territorial govern- 
ment, and this was all that Congress should in my opinion have 
done in the premises at the last session. Now .... I will tell 
you what I will do. I will vote for the ratification of treaties to 
extinguish the Indian titles to lands in that Territory and I will 
support a bill to organize a government for the Territory upon the 
condition that such bill contains no restriction upon the subject 
of slavery, and not otherwise. I will vote for a bill that leaves 
the slaveholder and the non-slaveholder upon terms of equality. 
/ am willing that the people who may settle there and who have 
the deepest interest in this question should decide it for themselves. 
As a very large and respectable portion of my constituents are 
directly or indirectly interested in slave property, I am unwilling 
that they with this species of property should be excluded. I will 
give no advantage to one citizen over another. Mr. Abelard 
Guthrie, in an address or circular to his constituents says that 
'Atchison politely told him that he would see the Territory of 
Nebraska sunk in hell before he would vote for it as freesoil terri- 
tory.' .... I do not remember of making use of expressions so 
emphatic but I will not deny it. I may have said so. But that 
there may be no mistake and that I may not be misunderstood 
hereafter, / now say emphatically that I will not vote for any bill 
that makes Nebraska a freesoil Territory. I have not, and I do 
not intend upon any occasion to yield one inch to the spirit of 
freesoilism and abolitionism, whether they exhibit themselves here 
at home or in Washington. Our old Senator of thirty years stand- 
ing, 'he who is known in Europe and America' and who will be 
known if his own account of things proves true to 'posterity' is 

188 The italics in this paragraph are mine. 


the author of all the doubts and misgivings as to my position 
upon this question. 

"Permit me now to ask what has this distinguished personage 
who has been Senator from Missouri for so long a time done upon 
this subject? What has he done toward organizing and settling 
the Nebraska Territory? What has he ever attempted to do? 
Did he ever introduce a bill to organize a government or to ex- 
tinguish the Indian titles in that Territory? If he did, when and 
where? He has only been absent from the Senate since the fourth 
of March, 1851, not quite twenty-seven months. What has filled 
him so brimful with fiery zeal and hot haste? What has induced 
him to make assertions which he knew not to be true as to the 
opinions and actions of myself and others? .... Duty to him- 
self and the State he in part represents should have called forth 
.... under other circumstances than those which now surround 
him an exhibition of this latter-day zeal upon this and kindred 
subjects. This was necessary to prevent his sincerity being now 
doubted and his motives impugned." 189 

On the sixth of August, at Parkville, Mr. Atchi- 
son explained his position with much more amplifi- 

"Colonel Benton, Mr. Webster, Mr. Clay and others told 
us that the Act of 1820, commonly called the Missouri Compro- 
mise, excluded slavery from this Territory and Congress had the 
power to pass such a law, and that it was constitutional, and so 
forth. Benton in one of his speeches declared that there was 
no slave territory belonging to the United States; that Mexican 
law excluded slavery from the territory acquired by the treaty 
with that Republic at the close of the war; that the Missouri 
Compromise excluded slavery from all the Louisiana country north 
of 36 30' not included in the limits of the State of Missouri 
(this very Territory of Nebraska). Was it then strange that I 
should hesitate about sustaining Mr. Hall's bill? Missouri is and 
always has been a slave State. A large portion of my constituents 
are slaveholders. Could it be expected that I would be very 

189 See also editorial in the Missouri Republican, January 31, 1854. 


anxious about organizing a Territory from which a large portion 
of my constituents would be excluded? The State of Missouri 
is now bounded on two sides by free States; organize this Terri- 
tory as free territory then we are bounded on three sides by 
free States or Territories. 

"What would be the effect upon slave property in Missouri 
and in this neighborhood it requires no prophet to tell. It is a 
problem not difficult to solve. The free States have a pious and 
philanthropic class of men who observe the 'higher law' and whose 
duty it is to attend to other people's business and think that they 
are rendering God good service in stealing their neighbors' negroes. 
But, fellow citizens, that I may be clearly understood in relation 
to this point, / now declare to you that I will not vote for a bill 
to organize a government for the Territory of Nebraska unless 
that bill leaves the Territory open for settlement to all the people 
of the United States without restriction or limitation; open to the 
slaveholder as well as to the non-slaveholder. 190 I will vote for 
no bill that directly or indirectly makes a discrimination between 
the citizens of the different States of this Union, North or South, 
slave or non-slaveholding; no bill that strikes at the equality of 
the States of this Confederacy 

"At the last session of Congress an appropriation was made 
to enable the President to negotiate treaties with the Indians for 
the purpose of obtaining their consent to the organization of a 
government and to purchase their lands for settlement by the white 
men. This was the object of the appropriation and I voted for 
it; and I doubt not but that the object of the appropriation will be 
carried out by the President before the meeting of the next Con- 
gress. If so, then I will vote for and use all the influence I have 
in favor of a bill to organize a government and to promote its 
settlement upon the principles I have indicated 190 

"When Nebraska shall be settled and its people desire to enter 
this Union as a State, it is the right of the people to form their 
institutions to suit themselves. They may adopt slavery as one 
of their institutions or they may exclude it, as they shall deem 
expedient. If it is the will of a majority of the people of the 

190 The italics are mine. 


Territory at that time to exclude slavery, be it so. It is their 
business, not ours. Let them present us with a republican form 
of government, this is all that shall be asked. I would vote its 
admission into the Union. The Territories of the United States, 
preparatory to their admission into the Union as States, have the 
right to form their own institutions, as much so as States of the 
Union have a right to change their institutions. 

"No person will deny the right of South Carolina to abolish 
slavery. None will deny the right of Massachusetts to establish 
slavery. The Territories have the same right when they form 
their Constitutions and ask admission into this Union as States. 191 

"Now am I understood? If there is anything doubtful in 
my position, I will thank any gentleman to catechize me that I 
may be clearly and distinctly understood, for I desire upon this 
question to be understood. I know that my opinion upon this 
subject has been by some misunderstood and others misrepresented. 
No person questions me? Then I am understood " 

The reader has doubtless observed that in none 
of the foregoing declarations has Senator Atchison 
directly and frankly championed the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise. No pledge has been given 
that he will endeavor at the coming session of Con- 
gress to accomplish the Repeal. All his declarations 
bearing upon this point are made with a certain res- 
ervation; all are in the negative form, and from them 
no such pledge can with perfect certainty be inferred. 
It becomes important therefore to know how these 
declarations were understood in Missouri at the time. 
No direct evidence has been found showing how 
Atchison's friends regarded them, but under all the 
circumstances it is not unfair to accept the interpre- 

191 Compare the phraseology of this and the preceding paragraph with 
the language used by Douglas upon the same point in his speeches of 
January 30, and May 25, 1854; Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 275, 941, and 
ibid., xxxi, 755 ff. 


tation placed upon them by the leading Benton news- 

The following editorial, taken from the St. 
Joseph Gazette, 192 a Benton organ, is probably the 
first public statement in which the significance of the 
issues between Benton and Atchison over Nebraska 
is directly associated with the compromise measures 
of 1850 and with the national party platforms of 
1852. The charges here brought against Atchison, 
it will be seen, do not differ essentially from those 
generally brought against Douglas for his supposed 
origination of the Repeal. 

". . . . Atchison says he will never vote for a bill to or- 
ganize the Territory without the restrictive clause upon the subject 
of slavery is removed, or in other words without virtually re- 
pealing the Missouri Compromise. The only safety to the slave 
States consists in our opinion in a rigid adherence to this measure. 
How could Gen. Atchison carry out the policy he now advocates 
without disturbing the Compromise measures and opening afresh 
the slavery excitement which has agitated this Union from its 
circumference to its center. Have not Democrats been denounced 
as agitators of the slavery question for endeavoring to repeal the 
Jackson resolutions? How then can Gen. Atchison escape the 
same charge and that too, by his own friends when he is advocating 
the repeal of that restrictive clause referred to! Are we not all 
as Democrats pledged to abide by the Compromise measures ? But 
Gen. Atchison now says he will not vote for a bill organizing 
Nebraska without the restrictive clause on slavery is removed. 
Then he is unwilling to abide by the settlement of that question 
which is now recognized as the law of the land. Who, then 
we ask, are the slavery agitators? Let Gen. Atchison and those 
who advocate his doctrines answer. For our part we are content 
to let that question rest forever." 

19 - Quoted in the Jefferson Inquirer, October 12, 1853. 


A few days later the following appeared in the 
Jefferson Inquirer: 193 

"The Union is to be again threatened with dissolution, if a 
territorial government is organized in that Territory, the Missouri 
Compromise is to be disregarded, and Nebraska is to be kept out 
of the Union ! unless Congress will first establish slavery in the 

Territory and then deny to the people the right to reject it 

Senator Atchison .... declares his opposition to the organiza- 
tion of the territorial government of Nebraska unless Congress 
'will repeal the slavery restriction,' or in other words set aside 
the Missouri Compromise! What becomes of the Baltimore 
platform and the Compromise acts when California was admitted 
to the Union, and why does Senator Atchison now seek to renew 
the slavery agitation? .... No matter for consistency or for 
right. The organization and admission of Nebraska must be 
opposed because Colonel Benton and his friends favor it." 

The Benton newspapers, it must be admitted, 
endeavored to put the worst possible interpretation 
upon the words and declarations of Senator Atchison. 
In view of all the evidence, however, it is difficult 
to believe that they did any violence to his real in- 
tentions or to the real significance of his utterances. 
There can be no mistaking the most important issue 
between these two warring factions in Missouri in 
the summer and autumn of 1853 : that issue is nothing 
less than the retention or the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise in connection with the organization of 
a territorial government in Nebraska at the next ses- 
sion of Congress. 

At the close of the 32d Congress and the re- 
opening of the senatorial contest in the spring of 1853 
we saw 194 good reason to predict that if the repeal 

193 October 22, 1853. 

194 See page 106. 


of the Missouri Compromise should ever appear 
feasible, if upon its consummation his political career 
depended, Senator Atchison would be found actively 
supporting it. We have now seen that Benton's be- 
wildering aggressiveness in forcing to the front the 
question of the Pacific railroad and a territorial gov- 
ernment for Nebraska, in misrepresenting Atchison's 
position regarding both of these measures, in stren- 
uously endeavoring to undermine Atchison's political 
support by proclaiming the right of immediate settle- 
ment in Nebraska — had placed Senator Atchison in 
a most embarrassing position, a position in which his 
very political life seemed at stake. In this crisis and 
in order to extricate himself Senator Atchison as- 
sumed the dangerous role of champion of the repeal 
of the Missouri Compromise and pledged his support 
to the Nebraska territorial bill only on the condition 
that the Compromise restriction should be repealed. 
Thus the issues between these aspirants for the Sen- 
atorial seat arise out of subjects peculiarly within the 
scope of Congressional legislation. It seems safe to 
predict, therefore, that the contest will appear in 
Washington in some form or other, since there alone 
can the issues be finally determined. Before, how- 
ever, taking up the Washington aspects of the Mis- 
souri Senatorial fight some attention must be given 
to other agencies at work in 1853 seeking to compel 
action by the next Congress respecting the estab- 
lishment of a territorial government for Nebraska. 


The Provisional Government of Nebraska-Rev. Thomas Johnson 
-The Commissioner of Indian Affairs Visits Nebraska-Charges 
against Him. 

Mention has been made in the preceding chapter 
of the interest with which the Wyandott Indians 
living near the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri 
rivers had watched the great emigration through the 
Nebraska country and the subsequent discussions of 
the Pacific railway; also of the efforts of Mr. Guthrie 
as their representative, to force upon the attention of 
the second session of the 32d Congress the subject of 
a territorial government. If, as Colonel Benton kept 
publicly reiterating, the creation of a territorial gov- 
ernment in Nebraska was a step necessary, prelim- 
inary and indispensable to the construction of the 
railway along the "central" route, it was clearly to 
their interest to persevere in active steps looking to- 
ward the early establishment of such government. 
/The "central" route would pass directly through 
their lands, and hence would greatly enhance all 
values there. In this direction, therefore, lay their 
chief interest in the creation of the territorial gov- 
ernment. 195 A consideration of more immediate con- 

195 With the Wyandotte, the chief grounds of interest in the territorial 
question were, at the beginning, quite unconnected with the subject of 
slavery. It was not long, however, before that subject entered to compli- 
cate matters. 


cern related to the recent passage by Congress of an 
Act authorizing the President to enter into negotia- 
tions with the Indians in Nebraska for the sale of 
their lands, and making an appropriation for that 
purpose. 196 From the adjournment of Congress in 
March, 1853, until July of that year, we have no very 
clear evidence of what took place among them. 

Up to this time, apparently, the Wyandotts had 
not only taken the initiative among the inhabitants 
of Nebraska, but they seem to have acted through- 
out without the cooperation or assistance of the 
other emigrant tribes living near them. But as 
the magnitude of the undertaking became more evi- 
dent, they realized the need and importance of enlist- 
ing the active interest of the other emigrant tribes 
who might also profit by the construction of the 
Pacific railroad. Steps were accordingly taken by 
the Wyandott leaders in the spring and early summer 
of 1853 to rekindle the council fire of the old north- 
eastern league among the emigrant tribes in Ne- 
braska. Out of this movement arose the organization 
of the "Provisional Government of Nebraska," 
which was immediately followed by the first struggle 
on Kansas soil between the pro-slavery and anti- 
slavery parties. 

In May, 1853, an informal meeting of the chief 
men among the Wyandotts and the other emigrant 
tribes in Nebraska, located upon the borders of Mis- 
souri and Iowa, was held for the purpose of seriously 
considering their interests. 197 It was decided to issue 

196 See pages 90, 91. 

!97 Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., vi, 104. Connelley's Prov. Gov., 30. 


a call for a convention of delegates from the various 
emigrant tribes to meet early in August at the Coun- 
cil House of the Wyandott Nation, with the object 
of effecting the organization of a provisional govern- 
ment for Nebraska. For some reason not definitely 
known, the date of the meeting was changed to the 
twenty-sixth of July. 

The call for this convention was issued after 
Colonel Benton had begun to advocate publicly the 
immediate settlement of Nebraska by white men. It 
appears, furthermore, that Benton was advised of the 
contemplated convention, and approved it. There 
is also slight ground for believing that he had even 
urged it himself. 198 

The Convention met on July 26. 199 A long 

198 Such a course on his part would have been quite in keeping with 
his public utterances in the summer of 1853. Moreover, it is very evident 
that the interest and aims of the Wyandotts and of Colonel Benton, if they 
did not exactly coincide, at all events tended strongly to converge. — Kan. 
Hist. Soc. Trans., vi, 105; Connelley's Prov. Gov., 31. 

"The politicians resident in Nebraska," wrote the editor of the Bloom- 
ington (Mo.) Republican after a visit to the Wyandotts in the fall of 1853, 
"cannot keep out of Missouri nor the Missouri politicians out of Nebraska. 
The Indians seem to understand Col. Benton, if Missouri does not. They 
are divided, one party supports freesoilism, while the other is opposed to it; 
and both agree that the Colonel is the friend and supporter of freesoil and 

is upon good terms with the Abolitionists " — Quoted in the Ioixia 

State Gazette, November 9, 1853. 

199 «\Ve are informed that one of the gentlemen present at this meet- 
ing reports the whole number who took part in it at fifteen. These were 
persons residing in the Territory under permits as traders, or as connected 

with the mission We do not therefore look upon this meeting as a 

fact having any important bearing on the question of organization. Or- 
ganization is nevertheless impatiently desired by a portion of the people 

of Missouri and should not be delayed beyond another Congress " 

National Intelligencer, August 16, 1853, quoting St. Louis Intelligencer. 


series of resolutions was adopted. 200 One was "ex- 
pressive of the Convention's preference of the Great 
Central Rail Road Route;" another, of its regret at 
the failure of the last Congress to establish a terri- 
torial government in Nebraska. This subject was 
earnestly recommended to the consideration of the 
next Congress, and the earliest possible passage of 
such an act was urged. 

Though these resolutions contain no mention of 
slavery, they were not passed without a discussion 
which revealed sharp differences of opinion regard- 
ing that subject and brought out the fact that there 
were delegates present who sympathized with the 
pro-slavery, or Atchisonian, party in Missouri. Thus 
in the resolutions as originally proposed, "a pro- 
found sense of obligation to Hon. Thomas H. Ben- 
ton and to Willard P. Hall of Missouri" led to the 
inclusion of a resolution expressive of grateful ac- 
knowledgment "for their generous and patriotic 
exertions in support of the rights and interests of our 
Territory." 201 

"One speaker 'was opposed to inserting Benton's name, for 
it would damn any measure in Congress.' This was Gen. Whit- 
field 202 who thought the meeting premature, that the Indian title 
should be first extinguished. He was the agent of the Pottawat- 
omies. Some of the speakers advocated the early organization 

200 The resolutions are printed in full in Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., vi, 
107-108, and in Connelley's Prov. Gov., 43 ff. 

201 This is the account given in the Parkville Luminary, quoted in the 
Missouri Republican, August 8, 1853; see also the New York Tribune, 
November 2, 1853, quoting the Cleveland Forest City. 

202 j, \y_ Whitfield, a prominent figure in the later Kansas struggles; 
elected Delegate to Congress from Kansas, by the pro-slavery party, July 
23, 1854. 


of the Territory and its settlement as the means to securing the 
Pacific railroad. 

"Gen. Whitfield again spoke with much force; that he was 
for compromise according to the late act; that the Missouri Com- 
promise ought to be repealed; that men from all parts of the 
Union ought to have the privilege of bringing their property with 
them, from a negro to a spring jenny; he said they might cry no 
agitation when slavery was excluded by the Missouri Compromise ; 
for his part he should agitate and agitate until Southern men ivere 
permitted to take their slaves to the Territory ; he did not care 
personally whether it was finally made a slave State or not. 

"Mr. Abelard Guthrie spoke in a quiet and sensible manner. 
He was opposed to agitation; wanted a territorial government 
organized like Utah without any allusion to the subject of slavery; 
and then have the polls open and let the citizens themselves decide 
the question pro or con ; 203 and like every other good citizen he 
was willing to abide the decision of the majority. 

"Rev. Thomas Johnson moved to strike out the fifth resolu- 
tion [the one in which reference was made to Benton and Hall's 
efforts in behalf of the territory]. He was opposed to personal 
matters in this Convention ; in praising two men they had perhaps 
left out others equally meritorious; he was opposed to furnishing 
a hobby for any man to ride on ; . . . . thought these names 
would prejudice their interests; that it was bad policy to say 
the least. 

"Gen. Whitfield was also opposed to the resolution; he did 
not want the railroad or Nebraska bill to 'tote any man through, 
or any man to tote them through.' 

"Mr. Guthrie said he knew that when the bill in the last 
Congress had few friends that Mr. Hall and Col. Benton used 
untiring exertions to carry it through ; that Nebraska owed them 
a debt of gratitude; he wanted the Convention to take a stand 
above personal prejudices; where shall we look for friends if we 
prove ungrateful and refuse to acknowledge meritorious services. 

"The friends of the resolution appeared willing in order to 

203 The italics are mine. 


appease the opposition to let them lay it on the table without voting 
to sustain it." 204 

Other resolutions authorized the calling of an 
election of a Delegate to Congress on the second 
Tuesday of October, the nomination of a Delegate 
by the Convention then in session, and the immediate 
election by the Convention of "a provisional gov- 
ernor, a provisional secretary of state and a council 
of three persons." William Walker 205 was there- 
upon elected Provisional Governor, G. I. Clark, Sec- 
retary of the Territory, and O. C. Miller, Isaac 
Mundy and M. R. Walker, Councilmen; and the 
Convention nominated Mr. Abelard Guthrie as can- 
didate for Delegate to Congress. Rev. Thomas 
Johnson was also nominated, but at the time he de- 
clined to run as an opposition candidate. 

On the first day of August, 1853, Governor Walk- 
er issued his proclamation for the election of a Ter- 
ritorial Delegate, to be held on the second Tuesday 
in October, and two hundred copies of the proclama- 
tion were printed for circulation throughout the Ter- 
ritory. 206 A few days afterwards, another Conven- 

204 The Missouri Republican, in commenting upon the account given 
above, said: "We understand indeed that this Convention was composed 
of about a dozen individuals of the territory, and that it was managed by 
one or two persons. It will only make work for the President." 

205 Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., vi, 107 ff, and Connelley's Prov. Gov., 
33 ff. Walker was at this time head chief of the Wyandotts, and the most 
influential man in the tribe. After the War of 1812 he was for some years 
the private secretary of General Cass. He was an ardent Democrat, of 
pro-slavery sympathies, and was a member of the Lecompton constitutional 
convention. Sketches of Walker, and the other men mentioned in the text, 
may be found in Connelley's Prov. Gov. 

206 This proclamation is in Connelley's Prov. Gov., 47, and the Na- 
tional Intelligencer, August 25, 1853. It was issued two days before 



tion was called at Kickapoo on the twentieth of Sep- 
tember. Mr. Thomas Johnson was again nominated, 
and yielding to the wishes of his friends, became a 
candidate for Delegate in opposition to Guthrie. 207 

Atchison wrote to the Secretary of the Interior regarding the right of white 
men to settle in Nebraska without further action by Congress. 

207 Governor Walker's "Notes on the History of Nebraska," in Connel- 
ley's Prov. Gov., 58. "Abelard Guthrie was put forward by friends of 
Thomas H. Benton; Rev. Thomas Johnson by friends of David R. Atchi- 
son." — Wilder's Annals of Kansas, 31; see also N. Y. Tribune, November 
2, and November 7, 1853. The following uncomplimentary sketch of Rev. 
Thomas Johnson is found in Phillips's Conquest of Kansas, 16-17: "Close 
to the frontier of Missouri, and within a few miles of Westport, stands 
one of the oldest missions in the [Nebraska] Territory, the celebrated 
'Shawnee Mission' of the Methodist Church South. Three sections of the 
very finest land were granted by the Shawnees to this mission; besides 
which, no inconsiderable portion of Government money and percentage on 
the Indian annuities have been expended in erecting three or four massive 
and extensive, but taste-less and filthy looking, brick buildings, and in 
converting those three sections of fertile Indian land into a well-improved 
and beautiful farm, which I have heard estimated worth sixty thousand 
dollars. In the progress of events, and by a system of management which 
I cannot comprehend, much less explain, two sections of this farm, con- 
taining many of the best improvements, have fallen into the hands of the 
present head of the Mission, the Rev. Thomas Johnson. 

"Some twenty years ago when this worthy came to Kansas, he was, 
as I have been told, 'not worth a blanket.' By 'breaking the bread of life' 
to others, he seems haply to have acquired a reasonable portion of the 
baser, or 'of the earth earthy' bread himself The Rev. Tom John- 
son is a western man. Vulgar, illiterate and coarse, I have heard his 
voice ring through the dingy brick wall of the Shawnee Mission in prayer, 
his style being characterized chiefly by extreme western provincialisms and 
very bad grammar. A violent pro-slavery partisan, he has been a 
useful tool in his way. His name may be found figuring in some of the 
most violent of the pro-slavery partisan meetings " A more com- 
plimentary sketch is given by Mr. Connelley in his Provisional Govern- 
ment, 40 n: "Rev. Thomas Johnson was born in Virginia, July II, 1802. 
He was assassinated in his own home in Kansas, near Westport, Mo., 
January 2, 1865. He was sent by the M. E. Church to preach to the 
Shawnees in the 'Indian Territory' in 1829. After laboring here for some 
time, he was compelled to abandon his work on account of poor health, 
and he then moved to Fayette, Mo. In 1847 he was prevailed upon to 


The Kickapoo Convention also adopted a series 
of resolutions, the most important of which must 
have been inspired by some one in close touch with 
the leaders of the Atchisonian party in Missouri: 208 

"Resolution I. That the growing interest of the Territory 
seems to demand the extinguishment of the present Indian titles 
and that we are highly gratified to see that the General Govern- 
ment is taking active steps to consummate this most desired object. 

"2. That although we earnestly desire and ask for a speedy 
organization, nevertheless we deem it imprudent to establish a 
territorial government until after the titles of the present owners 
of the soil are extinguished, believing as we do, that the Indians 
have certain rights guaranteed to them by the Government, which 
must be respected. 

"3- That we fully concur in the views expressed by Colonel 
Manypenny, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, in regard to the 
present settlement by the whites. 

"4. That we know no North, no South, no East, no West, 
and desire the organization of a territorial government without 
any restriction but having due regard to the interest of every 
portion of our glorious Union. 

"5. That we deem it expedient that we should be represented 
in Washington this winter and that we do in Convention assembled 

resume his work in the Shawnee Mission Schools. From this time until his 
death he was prominent in the councils of the Price-Atchison Democracy 
of Missouri in their efforts to introduce slavery into Nebraska and Kansas. 
He was elected President of the first Territorial Council of Kansas Ter- 
ritory, in 1855. This was the 'Upper House' of the Legislature that enacted 
the 'Bogus Laws.' .... Mr. Johnson was a good man. The cause which 
he believed a holy one was in fact a bad one and was hastened to destruc- 
tion by the madness of its advocates. His belief in its righteousness is not 
surprising, for it had been instilled into his mind from infancy. He did 
what he believed to be right. He was a true and humble Christian and an 
eloquent and earnest minister of the Gospel." Mr. Connelly refers to 
"an excellent biography of Mr. Johnson" in Andreas's History of Kansas, 
300. See also "The Methodist Missions among the Indian Tribes in Kan- 
sas," by Rev. J. J. Lutz, in Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., ix, 160 ff. and a descrip- 
tion of the Shawnee Mission in Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., viii, 256, 333. 

208 The resolutions are in the Missouri Republican, September 29, 1853. 


nominate a suitable person, free from all sectional prejudices and 
partialities, having the true interest of the Territory at heart." 

The sixth resolution accordingly provided for 
the election of a territorial delegate to be held on the 
same day fixed by the Wyandott Convention at its 
session of July 26, the polls to be located at sixteen 
different places in the Territory. 

"8. That we are in favor of the immediate construction 
of the Pacific railroad and that we believe the organization of Ne- 
braska Territory will advance this great national work " 

Thus the two rival candidates for the office of 
Territorial Delegate were standing upon platforms 
in which the only common features were the desire 
for the early extinguishment of Indian titles in Ne- 
braska, and the organization of a territorial govern- 
ment as a means of facilitating the construction of 
the Pacific railroad. Otherwise, Guthrie apparent- 
ly represented the Bentonian, Johnson, the Atchiso- 
nian, policies. 209 

The election of Territorial Delegate took place, 
in accordance with the proclamation of Governor 
Walker, on the eleventh day of October, 1853. The 
votes were cast in several different localities or pre- 

209 Upon the subject of slavery, little was said in these resolutions, 
but it seemed to be understood that the candidate of the Kickapoo Con- 
vention represented an element desiring the repeal of the Missouri Com- 
promise restriction, and that the candidate of the Wyandott Convention, 
although opposed to a reagitation of the slavery question, was willing to 
go so far as to leave the decision respecting slavery to the people who might 
settle the new Territory, which was essentially the position of Mr. Doug- 
las. In this way the subject of slavery was thus early injected into the 
nascent politics of the embryonic Territory. Here really began the "strug- 
gle for Kansas," even before the creation of the Territory. See the New 
York Tribune, November 2, 1853, quoting the Cleveland Forest City and 
the Missouri Democrat; and November 7, 1853, quoting the Washington 


cincts. Regarding the result in the Wyandott pre- 
cinct, Governor Walker's journal says: 

"Tuesday, October II, 1853. Attended the election of del- 
egate to Congress, for Wyandott precinct. Fifty one votes were 

"A. Guthrie .... 33 

"Tom Johnson . . . 18 

"The priesthood of the M. E. Church made unusual exer- 
tions to obtain a majority for their holy brother. Amidst the 
exertions of their obsequious tools it was apparent that it was an 
uphill piece of business in Wyandott." 210 

On October 31 we find Governor Walker con- 
ceding and explaining the election of Rev. Mr. John- 
son, before the returns were canvassed, in the follow- 
ing entry: 

"I suppose we may safely set down Thomas Johnson's election 
for delegate as certain. It is not at all surprising, when we look 
at the fearful odds between the opposing candidates. Mr. Guth- 
rie had only his personal friends to support him with their votes 
and influence, while the former had the whole power of the Fed- 
eral Government, the presence and active support of the Com- 
missioner of Indian Affairs, the military, the Indian Agents, Mis- 
sionaries, Indian Traders, &c. A combined power that is ir- 
resistible." 211 

The returns were canvassed on the seventh of 
November and "it was found that Thomas Johnson 
of Shawnee had received a majority of all the votes 
cast," and accordingly he "was declared duly elect- 
ed." 212 On the following day the proper certificate 
of election was issued to Mr. Johnson, by Governor 

210 Connelley's Prov. Gov., 38. Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., vi, 109. 

211 Connelley's Prov. Gov., 39. Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., vi, 109. N. Y. 
Tribune, Nov. 2, 1853, quoting the Cleveland Forest City; and Nov. 
14, 1853. 

212 Connelley's Prov. Gov., 39, 58. Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 75. 


Commenting afterwards upon the proceeding in 
reference to the establishment of a provisional gov- 
ernment in Nebraska and the election of a Territorial 
Delegate, Governor Walker said : 

"Many politicians and editors of the public journals whose 
standard of political morals was of the straitest kind viewed these 
proceedings with decided aversion and regarded them as revolu- 
tionary, etc., mobocratic, law-defying, unprecedented, illegal; for- 
getting the several provisional governments of California, Oregon, 
New Mexico, etc. 

"It is here worthy of remark that in each of the emigrant 
tribes of Indians elections were held and they voluntarily and 
freely participated in them ; showing that they anticipated and were 
prepared for the change in their political condition which they 
saw would soon be wrought out. As was the case with Mr. 
Guthrie who was elected delegate the year previous, Congress being 
averse to a departure from 'the line of safe precedent,' by admit- 
ting delegates from unorganized territories, refused to admit Mr. 
Johnson to a seat in that body. The provisional government of 
Nebraska continued in existence till after the organization by 
Congress of the two Territories and the arrival of A. H. Reeder, 
the first Governor of Kansas." 213 

The election of Mr. Johnson and the defeat of 
Mr. Guthrie, their own candidate, was far from 
pleasing to the Wyandotts: 

They "felt outraged by the action of the Commissioner of 
Indian Affairs but as their interests were so largely in his hands 
they could do nothing else than submit without protest, and this 
they all did, except Mr. Guthrie. He filed a contest for the scat 
of Delegate and vigorously attacked the Commissioner of Indian 
Affairs in the public prints. 214 He spent a portion of the winter 
in Washington and labored for the territorial government of 
Nebraska until he was convinced that the slave power would 

213 "Notes on the History of Nebraska," in Connelley's Prov. Gov., 60. 

214 Connelley's Prov. Gov., 40. Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., vi, no. 


organize two Territories and endeavor to make one slave, and 
permit the other to come into the Union, free." 215 

215 In relation to Mr. Guthrie's attack upon Col. Manypenny, Gov- 
ernor Walker, who could not fairly be called friendly to Manypenny, 
has this to say in his Journal, which shows that in his opinion the attack 
was not wholly justifiable or kept within the bounds of accuracy. 

"Saturday, November 12, 1853. 

"Wrote a communication to Col. Manypenny, Commissioner of Indian 
Affairs, correcting an error in a communication published in the Missouri 
Democrat [Bentonian] by Mr. A. Guthrie, in relation to a speech delivered 
by the former to the Wyandott Council. 

"Thursday, January 12, 1854. 

"Reed, two letters from A. Guthrie. In trouble again. Wants cer- 
tificates to prove his charges against Commissioner Manypenny. I can't 
help him much. 

"Saturday, January 28, 1854. 

"Reed, an 'Ohio State Journal.' This is the amount of my mail. 
Guthrie out on Col. Manypenny again. The former, I fear, will come 
off second best. He is imprudent and rash." — Connelley's Prov. Gov., 40. 

In a letter to the editor of the New York Tribune, published in that 
paper, August 9, 1856, Mr. Guthrie gives this account of the circum- 
stances connected with the Convention of July 23, and the subsequent 
election of a territorial delegate: 

"In the autumn of ... . 1853, a convention of the people of the 
Territory assembled at Wyandotte, and established a provisional govern- 
ment — a measure first suggested and the plan proposed by myself. At 
this convention I was nominated for reelection. But a portion of the 
convention voted and another convention was called at which Mr. Thomas 
Johnson was nominated as my competitor. The Chief of the Indian 
Bureau at Washington, sided both by money and personal influence, with 
my opponent. This I can prove. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise 
was now first agitated [in the Territory] and it was thought important 
to success that the Territory should be represented by one favorable to that 
measure. Hence the interference. And as all the Indian agents were 
under the control of the Government, they obtained a very large Indian 
vote — persons who were not citizens of the United States, nor willing to 
become such, and who voted against me, because these agents told them 
'if they did not do so I would be elected and bring them under the white 
man's laws.' But a majority of actual citizens voted for me, yet the certi- 
ficate of election was given to my competitor by the provisional governor. 
I contested the election, but the committee on elections, to whom the sub- 
ject was referred, never came to any decision thereon. Mr. Johnson 
obtained lucrative employment in the Indian Department, and through the 
instrumentality of Indian treaties made himself rich, and I was taken 


The allusions to the Commissioner of Indian 
Affairs found in the last few pages, require some 
explanation. Less than three weeks 216 after Gov- 
ernor Walker had issued his proclamation for the 
election of a Territorial Delegate, Colonel George 
W. Manypenny, the Commissioner of Indian Af- 
fairs, was designated by the President to conduct the 
negotiations with the Indians west of Missouri and 
Iowa, contemplated by the Act of March 3, 1853. 217 
Immediately upon the receipt of this communication, 
the Commissioner left Washington and "repaired to 
the Indian country to discharge the preliminary du- 
ties embraced" in his instructions. 218 

The Commissioner entered the Indian country 
on the second of September, and remained there un- 
til the eleventh day of October, the day set for the 
election of Territorial Delegate. The interim, so the 
Commissioner stated in his report, was occupied "in 
visiting, and talking with various tribes, and in ob- 
taining from all known sources of credit within [his] 

sick and have been on the verge of the grave most of the time since." 
Reprinted in Connelley's Pro*>. Gov., 80 ff. 

216 August 18, 1853. This was two days after Manypenny, at the 
request of the Secretary of the Interior, had replied to Atchison's inquiry, 
regarding the right to settle in Nebraska. See pages 125-127. 

217 Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, November 9, 1853, 
in House Executive Documents, 1st Sess., 33d Cong., i, Pt. i, 269 ff. 
The substance of this special report is embodied in the general annual 
report of the Commissioner, November 26, 1853, ibid., 243 ff. 

218 "This [referring to Manypenny's visit to the Indian country] will 
be a measure of great importance in its results, opening the way to a legal 
occupation of the Pacific route by settlers, and giving countenance to the 
squatters who have already rushed into the country without permission. 
Its very natural consequence will be to necessitate the passage of a bill 
bv the next Congress establishing a Territorial Government of Nebraska." 
National Intelligencer, August 27, 1853, quoting the North American. 


reach such information as might be useful and neces- 
sary in forming the basis of treaties as contemplated 
by the Act of Congress." 219 

Accompanied by the Rev. Thomas Johnson, 
Commissioner Manypenny on the sixth of Sep- 
tember paid a visit to the Wyandotts, was introduced 
by Governor Walker, and made a short address to 
their Council then in session. A month later he had 
another interview with the Council. 220 Evidently 
the Wyandotts were non-committal upon the subject 

219 The Commissioner's report of November 26, 1853, (249) states 
in more detail what was done: "A preliminary visit to the Indian 
country, with a view to explore it, and to obtain such informa- 
tion as would be useful and necessary in preparing full and de- 
tailed instructions as to the terms and conditions of the treaties to be 
negotiated, was deemed necessary, and was made by that officer [the Com- 
missioner] in obedience to his instructions. While thus engaged, he visited 
the Omahas, [a brief account of the meeting with the Omahas and Ottoes 
may be found in the National Intelligencer, October 13, 1853], Ottoes, and 
Missouris, Iowas, Sacs and Foxes of Missouri, Kickapoos, Delawares, 
Shawnees, Wyandotts, Pottawatomies, Sacs and Foxes of the Mississippi, 
Chippewas of Swan Creek and Black river, Ottawas of Roche de Boeuf 
and Blanchard's fork, Weas and Piankeshaws, Kaskaskias and Peorias and 
Miamies. These embrace all the tribes located immediately west of Mis- 
souri and Iowa, except the bands of the Quapaws, Senecas and Shawnees, 
who have small tracts adjacent to the southwest corner of the State of 
Missouri, and who, for want of time, the commissioner was unable to 
visit. The same cause operated to prevent his seeing the Pawnees, Kan- 
sas and Osage Indians, with whom, although their lands are not contiguous 
to the boundaries of either of these States, it is desirable that treaties also 
be made, should a civil government be established and the country opened 
for settlement. The Commissioner held councils with every tribe whom 
he visited, and disclosed to them the object of his journey to their coun- 

220 The entry in Governor Walker's journal for this date reads: 
"Friday, October 7, 1853. — 

"Attended a Council called by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. 
Speeches were passed between the parties on the subject of the Territorial 
organization, [and] selling out to the Government." — Connelley's Prov. 
Gov., 38 ; Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., vi, 109. 


of selling their lands, for the Commissioner stated in 

his report: 

"They advised me that it was their desire, if the Territory of 
Nebraska should be organized, to make such changes in their 
civil polity, and their relations to the government, as to conform 
to the new order of things in the Territory; but did not give me 
their views in relation to their lands." 

Before and after Colonel Manypenny's return 
to Washington, charges which were given wide cir- 
culation began to be made by the Benton press in 
Missouri, to the effect that while the Commissioner 
was among the Indians he had been actively work- 
ing in the interest of Senator Atchison 221 and in sup- 

221 The repetition of these charges was not confined to the newspapers 
of Missouri: they were taken up by the press in the eastern States. For 
example, on the eighteenth of November, 1853, the editor of the New 
York Evening Post, after alluding to, and quoting, an explanation of 
Colonel Manypenny's failure to extinguish Indian titles in Nebraska, said: 
"The inference is that Mr. Manypenny has allowed himself to be made the 
instrument of Mr. Atchison in this matter. He makes a journey from 
Washington to Nebraska clothed with full power to arrange for the ces- 
sion of Indian lands; he finds several tribes desirous of making the cession 
and he returns from his long journey having done nothing. When inter- 
rogated as to the cause of this omission he puts on an air of mystery and 
tells us that he has good and sufficient reasons. The public will be in no 
mood to believe in the validity of reasons which he is ashamed to disclose. 
The true reason, there is every ground for believing, is a connection with 
Mr. Atchison in the intrigue to prevent by any pretense whatever the 
settlement and organization of Nebraska." See also editorial in the same 
paper, November 15, 1853. 

On December 21, 1853, Senator Atchison wrote to the editor of the 
Missouri Examiner, branding as false the charges that Colonel Manypenny 
was acting under "my dictation and direction in relation to Indian Affairs 
in what is now called 'Nebraska.' .... I never spoke to him or 
wrote a line to him upon the subject of Indian affairs in Nebraska 
nor did he write or speak a word upon that subject to me until since 
my arrival in Washington, in November last, except the answer to 
my letter to the Secretary of the Interior [mentioned in Chapter IV']. I 
further say that I did not see Colonel Manypenny whilst he was in the 
western country last summer, nor did I send him any message or have the 


port of Johnson as the Delegate to Congress; and 
that he had been guilty of a grave breach of official 
duty in departing from Nebraska without having 
negotiated any treaties with the Indians for the re- 
linquishment of their lands. For the first of these 
charges a basis seems to have been furnished by the 
fact that the Commissioner had been escorted 
through the Indian country by Gen. J. W. Whit- 
field, 222 one of the most active pro-slavery men in the 
Territory, and by the fact that he had visited the 
Wyandotts first in the company of Rev. Thomas 
Johnson. From our knowledge of Whitfield, it is 
not unfair to assume that he was working for the 
success of Mr. Johnson who appears to have been in 
close touch with the Atchisonian faction in Missouri. 
This being true, it is not impossible that the name 
of the Commissioner became identified with the polit- 
ical activity of his guide, although the Commissioner 
himself might have wholly refrained from such ac- 

To the second charge, greater importance was 

least intercourse with him, directly or indirectly. Indeed, I do not believe 
that I was within thirty miles of him at any time during his visit to the 

Indian country " This letter is printed in the Washington Union, 

December 23, 1853. The Union makes this comment: "The letter of 
Senator Atchison .... is an extinguisher on certain charges therein re- 
ferred to, made against Colonel Manypenny. Few of our public men 
have been more violently or unjustly assailed than the able and popular 
Commissioner of Indian Affairs. But these attacks will prove harmless." 
222 In his report of November 9, 1853, the Commissioner said: 
"I also acknowledge my obligations to General Whitfield, the agent 
for the Pottawatomies and Kansas Indians, who was my travelling com- 
panion the greater part of the time, for his good offices and the aid and 
assistance he rendered me." See also the National Intelligencer, October 
13, i8S3- 


attached. The Benton press 223 alleged that the fail- 
ure of the Commissioner to negotiate treaties with 
the Indians was due solely to his pro-slavery sym- 
pathies 224 and his partisanship for Senator Atchison, 
who was opposed to the immediate settlement of 
Nebraska, and hence desired all possible delay so 
long as the Missouri Compromise inhibition re- 
mained in force. This charge, however, finds little 
support, when the instructions issued to the Commis- 
sioner by the Secretary of the Interior are carefully 
examined. From these it appears that the object of 
the Commissioner's visit to Nebraska was not prima- 
rily to negotiate treaties. Whether or not treaties 
should be consummated during that visit was left to 
the sound discretion of the Commissioner. Here are 
the instructions upon this point: 225 

"It is believed .... that much good will result from a pre- 
liminary visit among the Indians, and an exploration of the country 
in question ; and for this purpose, and with a view to obtain all 
the information necessary to the preparation of full and detailed 

223 The supporters of Benton had become embittered against Col. 
Manypenny during the controversy between Benton and Atchison over the 
legality of immediate settlement in Nebraska. The position taken by the 
Commissioner, it will be remembered, was directly in opposition to the 
claims advanced by Benton and directly in support of the opinions ex- 
pressed by Atchison. 

224 The following reference to Manypenny occurs in a letter of Salmon 
P. Chase to E. S. Hamlin, dated Washington, January 23, 1854: ". . . . 
I suppose the Senatorial question decided by this time. Feeling no interest 
in it, since no man can be elected who is not pro-slavery, I only desire 
to call the attention of the people to a much greater matter [the proposed 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise]. I am sorry to hear that you have 
electioneered for Manypenny. I like him personally, but I would cut off 
my right hand sooner than aid him or any other man to reach a position 

in which he will make Ohio the vassal of the Slave Power " 

"Chase Correspondence," in Am. Hist. Assn., Report, 1902, ii, 257. 

225 House Ex. Doc, 1st Sess., 33d Cong., i, Pt. i, 269 ff. 


instructions as to the terms and conditions of the treaties to be 
made, you are requested to proceed at once to the Indian country 
and discharge this preliminary duty. 

"Should you deem it expedient and proper, however, to enter 
into any negotiations with the tribes in question, or either of them, 
for the extinguishment of their title to the lands now claimed by 
them, or for securing their assent to their settlement by citizens 
of the United States, you are fully authorized, in the exercise of 
a sound discretion, aided by your experience in the management of 
our Indian relations, to do so." 

The reasons for the omission to negotiate any 
treaties are explained in the Commissioner's report. 
The explanation is interesting especially for the indi- 
cations of some of the effects produced by Colonel 
Benton's Cole county letter and the subsequent agita- 
tion. The Commissioner said: 

"As I approached the borders of the Indian country, I found 
some of the people discussing with considerable warmth, in the 
press and otherwise, the question whether that country was not 
then open to occupation and settlement by the citizens of the 
United States; and, in some instances, those who held to the right 
to settle in the Indian country had gone over to explore with the 
intention to locate in it. 226 This discussion and these explora- 
tions had a very unfavorable influence on the Indian mind. The 
Indians were alarmed. Reports reached them that large bodies 
of white men were coming into their country to take possession of 
and drive them from it. Many of them were contemplating 
the necessity of defending themselves; and the proposition was 
abroad among some of the Indians for a grand council, at which 
they should (as one said to me) light up their fires after the old 
Indian fashion, and confederate for defence. 

"From the time that the original Indian title to the country 
was extinguished, under the authority of the act of 28th May, 1830, 
and the tribes transplanted from the States and Territories east 
of the Mississippi and located in it, until after the adjournment 

-6 See also the National Intelligencer, November 5, 1853. 


of the last Congress, it had always been considered a country set 
apart and dedicated to Indian uses and purposes; and it was 
equally well understood, before that time, that no person other 
than an Indian could reside there except by permission of the 
Government, and for a special purpose. 

"The enunciation, therefore, of the opinion that the country 
was open to occupation and settlement, at the time it was pro- 
mulgated, was most unfortunate 

"I found it very difficult to quiet the Indians, and was unable 
to fully restore some of these people to the tranquil condition they 
were in before the discussion of the subject and exploration of 
their country commenced. 

"In many councils the effect of this enunciation was evident; 
and in some instances I was unable, while in council, to obtain 
the calm consideration of the Indians to the subject-matter of my 
talk, owing to the excited state of their minds, resulting from the 
apprehension that their country was about to be taken from them 
without their consent, and without any consideration being paid 
them for it; and some even supposed that the object of my visit 
was to favor such a design. 

"As I progressed in my journey, and the councils which I 
held with various tribes increased in number, I was happy to per- 
ceive a better state of feeling — a willingness to listen, to be 
advised, and an assurance of confidence and dependence on their 
great father, and a determination to receive favorably the message 
I bore from him to them 

"Every tribe with whom I held council, with the exception 
of the Weas and Piankeshaws, the Peorias and Kaskaskias (who 
own only 256,000 acres), and the Shawnees, refused to dispose 
of any portion of their lands, as their first response to my talk. 
The small tribes above named proposed at once to dispose of the 
most of their land, and intimated that if they could make satis- 
factory arrangements for a home they would sell the whole of it. 

"With several of the tribes I could have concluded treaties, 
but only on condition that each should reserve for a tribal home 
that part of their land adjoining the States. There are grave 


objections to such a policy, involving alike the interests and peace 
of the citizens of the States, of those who may become residents 
of the Territory, and of the Indians themselves. From the 
disposition manifested by some Indians of influence to acquiesce 
in the views submitted to them on this point, I was of the opinion 
that, with these tribes, treaties on terms more favorable to the 
Government, and with provisions more consistent with their per- 
manent welfare and happiness, could be made after they had time 
for discussion and reflection, which some of them requested should 
be granted; and I therefore deemed it best to leave the subject 
with them, and confine myself to that branch of my instructions 
which made it my duty to explore the country, and obtain such 
information as would be useful, and from which the data could 
be obtained to form, as near as practicable, a uniform system of 
treaties. Of the propriety of this course I have now no doubt. 

"A civil government should be organized over the Territory. 
The Intercourse act is almost a dead letter. The United States 
court for the district of Missouri and Arkansas is too far re- 
moved from the Indian country; and for Indian purposes alone, 
saying nothing of the protection of our emigration to the Pacific, 
a civil government ought to be organized there. In addition to 
this, the position of Nebraska, with reference to our Pacific pos- 
sessions, renders it a matter of vast importance that it be speedily 
opened, and actual settlers invited into it on the most liberal 

"It is confidently expected that the necessary treaties can be 
made with these border Indians during the months of April and 
May, so that ample time may be had for their consideration and 
ratification by the Senate, and for the establishment of a terri- 
torial government before the adjournment of the approaching 
session of Congress." 227 

227 "The return of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the seat of 
government from his tour to the Indian Territory has already been an- 
nounced. From what we have learnt of that tour we are inclined to augur 
much good from it, and believe that it will furnish the Government with 
an amount of accurate information, obtainable only by actual observations 
on the spot, which will tend greatly to expedite the desirable and indeed 


almost necessary measure of a territorial organization of Nebraska " 

National Intelligencer, November 5, 1853; see also editorial in the New 
York Tribune, December 7, 1853. 


Popular Interest in Nebraska among Missourians and lowans— 
Hadley D. Johnson-Congressional Action A nticipated- Senator 
Douglas in Europe-His Letter to Walker and Lanphier-The 
Doctrine of Supersedure. 

Having thus witnessed some of the Indian man- 
ifestations of interest in the early organization of Ne- 
braska Territory, we may consider similar manifesta- 
tions by the people of Missouri and Iowa. Inci- 
dentally these will disprove the statement repeatedly 
made during the Kansas-Nebraska debate that there 
was no popular demand for the organization of the 
new Territories. 228 

228 Upon this point, James M. Cutts, the son-in-law and the "Boswell" 
of Stephen A. Douglas, has the following to say which may be regarded 
as coming from Douglas himself: 

". . . .In the meantime [1844-53] the passion of the Western people 
for emigration had become so aroused, that they could be no longer re- 
strained; and Colonel Benton, who was a candidate in Missouri for re- 
election to the Senate in 1852 and 1853, so far yielded to the popular 
clamor, as to advise the emigrants who had assembled, in a force of fifteen 
or twenty thousand, on the western border of Missouri, carrying their 
tents and wagons, to invade the territory and take possession, in defiance 
of the Indian intercourse laws, and of the authority of the Federal Gov- 
ernment, which, if executed, must inevitably have precipitated an Indian 
war with all those tribes. 

"When this movement on the part of Colonel Benton became known at 
Washington, the President of the United States despatched the Commissioner 
of Indian Affairs [Colonel Manypenny] to the scene of excitement, with or- 
ders to the commanding officer at Fort Leavenworth to use the United States 
army in resisting the invasion, if he could not succeed in restraining the emi- 
grants by persuasion and remonstrances. The Commissioner of Indian Af- 


The interest felt by the people of Missouri 
found frequent and emphatic expression in public 
meetings in localities where interest was especially 
keen. To what extent these meetings were the spon- 
taneous act of the people and to what extent they 
were the result of efforts on the part of politicians, 
it is impossible to determine. 

After the Parkville meeting of June, 1852, the 
first meeting of which a record has been found was 
held in Andrew County on the twenty-sixth of No- 
vember, 1853. The citizens of that county "without 
distinction of party," according to the Jefferson In- 
quirer, 229 assembled in the court house in Savannah 
pursuant to previous notice, and "organized a mass 
meeting, by electing Judge Daniel Van Buskirk 
president, and G. W. Samuels and W. A. Price sec- 
retaries. A committee with C. F. Holly, a strong 
Bentonite, as chairman, reported a long series of res- 
olutions of which the following are the most im- 

"Third resolution. That in failing to extend to Nebraska 
the political organization sought at the last session of Congress, 
that body or the men therein who were the authors of such 

fairs succeeded in procuring the agreement of the emigrants that they would 
encamp on the western borders of Missouri until the end of the next session 
of Congress, in order to see if Congress would not in the meantime, by law, 
open the country to emigration. When Congress assembled at the session 
of 1853-54, i° view of this state of facts, Mr. Douglas renewed his Ne- 
braska Act, which was modified, pending discussion, by dividing into two 
Territories, and became the Kansas-Nebraska Act. From these facts you 
can draw your o<wn conclusion, whether there ivas any necessity for the or- 
ganization of the Territory and of Congressional action at that time." — A 
Brief Treatise upon Constitutional and Party Questions, 90-91. 
229 December 24, 1853. 


failure have a vast responsibility to encounter at the bar of public 
opinion and we trust it will be fully met. 230 

"Fourth resolution. That it is the duty of Congress as 
early as possible at its ensuing session to organize Nebraska into a 
Territory and thus give to her residents, travellers, and traders 
and citizens the protection of law and the rights and privileges 
of a free people. 

"Fifth resolution. That in effecting that organization a 
bill substantially similar in its provisions to those in Hall's bill 
introduced at the last session and so ably advocated by our late 
faithful Representative, Hon. Willard P. Hall, would meet our 
approbation and as we believe that of the whole country. 

"Sixth resolution. That in organizing Nebraska Territory 
the pestiferous question of slavery should be entirely excluded ; 
and the people who shall settle it should determine for themselves 
whether the future State or States which shall hereafter be formed 
from its area shall he free States or slave States, and from suck 
decision when made there should be no appeal. 231 

"Seventh resolution. That we are utterly opposed to any 
agitation of that 'vexed question' now happily set at rest, and 'we 
will resist all attempts at renewing in Congress or out of it, the 
agitation of the slavery question under whatever shape or color 
the attempt may be made.' 

"Eighth resolution. That we consider the agitation of the 
slavery question in connection with the organization of Nebraska 
Territory dangerous to the peace of the country, fatal to the best 
interests of Nebraska itself and even threatening the harmony if 
not the perpetuity of the whole Union." 232 

230 A reproof aimed at Atchison. 

231 The italics are mine. 

232 Three resolutions also expressly endorsed and approved Col. Ben- 
ton's doctrine that Nebraska was then open to settlement, and in this con- 
nection Col. Manypenny comes in for the severest kind of a censure: 

"Ninth resolution. That all that portion of Nebraska not included 
within the limits of Indian reservations and which comprises the greater 
bulk of that Territory is as clearly United States lands and as equally 


A resolution was also passed providing for the 
selection by the meeting of one hundred citizens to 
represent Andrew County in "a general convention 

subject to the lawful occupation and settlement of American citizens as is 
any other vacant Government land not surveyed, reserved or preempted. 

"Tenth resolution. That while we are in favor of maintaining in- 
violate the faith of treaties yet we believe the best interest of the red races 
as well as our own, alike require the speedy extinction of all the Indian 
titles in Nebraska and the like speedy occupation and settlement of that 
whole territory by the patriotic vanguard of the Anglo-Saxon race. 

"Eleventh resolution. That seeking immediate settlement of that Ter- 
ritory in advance of such extinguishment of Indian titles 'that meritorious 
class of citizens, the hardy pioneer' may rely upon Col. Benton's map upon 
which have been drawn all the Indian reservations, as an accurate and in- 
valuable guide 

"Fourteenth resolution. That while it is the duty of the Executive to 
see that the laws are faithfully executed, President Pierce in having com- 
missioned an officer to execute the law aforesaid (appropriating $100,000 
for the extinguishment of Indian titles) is not liable to censure in the 
premises; but Col. Manypenny, the Commissioner, in grossly neglecting 
the duties of his appointment, in meddling in the local politics of that 
Territory, and failing to treat with the tribes of Indians who were willing 
and proposed so to treat and finally returning to Washington without car- 
rying out in good faith the appropriation made by Congress or assigning 
any satisfactory reason for the failure, has evinced a marked contempt 
for public opinion, a disregard of law and his utter inefficiency as a 
public officer." The source which may have inspired these resolutions is 
pretty clearly indicated in the fifteenth resolution. 

"Fifteenth resolution. That the unwearied efforts of our late Senator, 
Pater Senatus, Col. Thomas H. Benton, to arouse public attention to the 
claims of Nebraska Territory, to secure the location of the grand 'highway 
of nations' through its center and to promote the general weal of this 
State and the Union, deserve and will receive the heartfelt approbation of 
a grateful country " 

"The preamble and each resolution," so the report continues, "having 
first been read together, were read and voted upon separately and all 
unanimously adopted, excepting the fifteenth, which having been dis- 
cussed" by four speakers in its favor and two against it, "was amended 
.... by 'adding the thanks of the people to Hon. W. A. Hall and all 
other friends of Nebraska' and finally adopted by a large vote." — Jefferson 
Inquirer, December 24, 1853. 


of all the friends of Nebraska" to be held at St. 
Joseph on the ninth of the ensuing January. 233 

Just a week later, 234 the people of St. Joseph, 
"in pursuance of previous notice .... assembled 
at the City Hall to express their views in relation to 
the immediate organization of Nebraska Territory." 
The City Hall was crowded, we read, and "the ut- 
most harmony prevailed, and all were animated by 
one feeling and that was the organization of the 
Territory by the present Congress and the speedy 
extinguishment of the titles." 

B. O'Driscoll acted as president of this meeting 
and L. J. Easton as secretary. Judge C. F. Holly, 
who had reported the resolutions quoted above at the 

233 "The following paragraphs from the St. Louis Democrat of the 
twenty-sixth of November, give an account of the call of a great general 
meeting of the people of the frontiers in relation to this question: 

" 'There is no longer any doubt about the certainty of the immediate 
organization of Nebraska as a Territory. The St. Joseph Gazette comes 
to us with its columns freighted with the names of all the frontier citizens 
calling for a mass convention on the eighth [ninth] of January to take 
measures for carrying out this purpose. Public opinion, the supreme 
power in this country calls for the settlement of that fine Territory in tones 
that cannot be misunderstood. We quite concur in the spirit and manner 
of the movement. Let the people speak on the eighth of January in ac- 
cents that will startle the indolent and vulgar Senator who opposes them, 

in accents that will remind Congress of its duty Can there be a 

more withering rebuke of the malignant stupidities of Atchison than the 
call for the convention, signed by men of every shade of politics with 
whom patriotism is happily higher than party?' 

"The last sentence in this quotation refers to a declaration made by 
Senator Atchison to the effect that he is now determined to oppose the 
organization of Nebraska as a Territory, notwithstanding that at the last 
session of Congress he declared himself ready though reluctant to vote 
for that measure." Quoted in the Boston Atlas, December 6, 1853. The 
editor of the Atlas apparently was ignorant of Atchison's declarations in 
favor of Nebraska made during the summer of 1853. 

234 December 3, 1853, two days before the 33d Congress met. 


Andrew County meeting, was present and addressed 
the meeting. Mr. Easton, acting also as chairman 
of the committee on resolutions, reported a long se- 
ries, favoring "the early organization and settlement 
of Nebraska" in accordance with "Hall's bill, or one 
similar in provision;" condemning those members 
of the last Congress who prevented the passage of 
the Nebraska bill; and endorsing Colonel Benton's 
doctrine of the right of "immediate" settlement. The 
two most important resolutions relate to the subject 
of slavery in the new Territory, and these, with the 
Andrew County resolutions just quoted, are signifi- 
cant as indicating a popular demand in Missouri for 
the settlement of the slavery question in precisely the 
manner later prescribed in the Kansas-Nebraska bill. 

"3. Resolved, That we are opposed to the agitation of the 
slavery question in the organization of this Territory by any 
attempt to repeal the Missouri Compromise, and that without 
entering into the discussion of the merits or demerits of that Com- 
promise, or the Compromise Measures, we are willing to abide 
by and sustain them. 

"4. Resolved, That we are in favor of the people ivho go 
there and settle to determine the question as to whether it shall be 
a slave or free State. 23S We are unwilling to interfere in that 
question, but are content and satisfied with a simple organization 
of the Territory and extending the laws of the country over its 
settlers." 236 

235 The italics are mine. 

236 The other important resolutions were as follows: 

"1. Resolved, That we are in favor of the early organization and 
settlement of Nebraska Territory, and believe that the present Congress 
would consult the will and interest of the great body of the people by 
passing a bill extending the laws over that Territory. 

"2. Resolved, That in passing a bill to organize that Territory we 
are in favor of one known as Hall's bill, or one similar in provisions. 

"5. Resolved, That those persons in the last Congress, whoever they 


The Nebraska Convention met at the court 
house in St. Joseph, Missouri, on the ninth of 
January, 1854. The Convention adopted a long se- 
ries of resolutions, 237 the majority of them being 

may be, that threw obstacles in the way of the passage of a bill to organize 
that Territory after it had passed the House deserve the condemnation of 
the people. 

"6. Resolved, That we believe all that part of Nebraska Territory 
(which is much the larger portion) not belonging to the Indians 
by treaty and [not] marked out to them by metes and bounds is Govern- 
ment land and as clearly subject to settlement as any other public unsur- 

veyed lands 

"8. Resolved, That our people are a law-abiding people and are 
not disposed to violate any treaty stipulation of the Government or tres- 
pass upon Indian lands. . . . 

"9. Resolved, That the interests of the red man and of the Govern- 
ment require the speedy extinguishment of the Indian titles 

"n. Resolved, That we heartily approve of the high and noble and 
patriotic course of our neighbors and friends in Iowa for the firm and 
decided stand they have taken for the immediate organization of Nebraska 

"12. Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be furnished to each 
of our Senators and Representatives in Congress." 

A subsequent resolution authorized the chairman of the meeting to 
appoint two hundred delegates to attend the St. Joseph Convention to be 
held on the ninth of January. These resolutions may be found in the 
Jefferson Inquirer, Dec. 24, 1853, quoted from the St. Joseph Gazette. 
237 The preamble and most important resolutions were as follows: 
"Whereas, it is the inalienable right of the people to peaceably as- 
semble together to express their views in regard to any given topic in a 
respectful manner ; and 

"Whereas, it is the bounden duty of the people's representatives to 
respect the views thus given; and 

"Whereas, the early organization and settlement of Nebraska Terri- 
tory is deemed a matter of vast importance and fraught with consequences 
alike affecting the interests of the white as well as the red man; and 

"Whereas, the geographical position of Missouri and Iowa being more 
central for the location of the Pacific railroad through our territory and 
being on a direct line with the great cities of commerce on the Atlantic 
and California and Oregon on the Pacific, the best interests of the Republic 
would be subserved by the construction of such a road, it is therefore 
deemed necessary to securing so desirable a result that Nebraska Territory 


either verbatim or substantial reproductions of the 
resolutions of the Andrew County meeting. This se- 
ries too had a resolution relating to the slavery ques- 

"Resolved, That we consider the agitation of the slavery 
question in connection with the organization of Nebraska territory 
dangerous to the peace of the country, fatal to the best interests 
of Nebraska itself and even threatening the harmony, if not the 
perpetuity of the whole Union. 

"Resolved, That in organizing Nebraska territory all who 

are now or may hereafter settle there should be protected in all 

their rights, leaving questions of local policy to be settled by the 

citizens of the territory when they form a state government. 

» 238 

be settled, thereby enabling protection to be extended to the road and afford 
shelter for the thousands annually crossing the plains; we the people of 
northwestern Missouri, western Iowa and Nebraska Territory in Convention 
assembled do ... . 


"6, .... That it is the duty of Congress as early as possible at the 
present session to organize Nebraska into a Territory and thus give to her 
residents, travellers, traders and citizens the protection of law and the 
rights and privileges of a free people. 

"8 That while we are in favor of the early extinguishment 

of the Indian titles, we believe that delays are dangerous and that the 
organization of the Territory should not be delayed for that purpose, but 
a government of laws should at once be extended over the people who may 
settle there. 

" IO That the law of 1807 in relation to trespassers upon 

Public Lands is a dead letter and ought to be repealed by the present 
Congress " 

The Convention also appointed a committee of three to draft a me- 
morial to Congress "urging speedy action on the Nebraska question;" and 
voted that a committee of correspondence previously chosen ''be requested 
to solicit the views of all the members of Congress and other prominent 
citizens throughout the Union, and that when obtained they be published 
at the discretion of the Committee." The resolutions appear in the Missouri 
Republican, January 9, 1854. 

The italics are mine. The New York Independent for Sept. 25, 
1856, contains a contribution by a gentleman who had spent several years 


It may seem strange that the foregoing resolu- 
tions which are clearly pro-Benton, advocate a solu- 
tion of the slavery question in the new Territory not 
in harmony with the Missouri Compromise which 
Benton favored but according to the principle of 
popular sovereignty. The explanation lies in the 
fact that Benton's position on the slavery question 
did not truly represent that of the majority of the 
people of Missouri. Although they heartily ap- 
plauded his efforts in behalf of the Pacific railroad 239 

in the western part of Missouri, giving an account of Kansas affairs 
during the three years preceding. Mention is made in this account 
of a pro-slavery meeting in Missouri, of which I have been able to find 
no other record. "In the latter part of 1853, almost a year before the 
passing of the Nebraska bill, a public meeting was held in Platte county, 
Missouri, to consider the affairs of Kansas. Atchison made a speech, 
and was the master spirit of the meeting, and it was 'Resolved, that if 
the Territory shall be opened to settlement, we pledge ourselves to each 
other to extend the institutions of Missouri over the Territory, at whatever 
sacrifice of blood or treasure.' These resolutions were published in the 
Platte Argus. This was long before Douglas had thought of venturing 

upon the Repeal This meeting attracted little public attention at 

the time, but it furnishes the key to all the subsequent history. Atchison 
has since explained the process by which he bullied and terrified Pierce and 

Douglas into the fatal measure of repealing the restriction " 

239 It will be remembered that the main issue which caused Benton's 
defeat in 1849-50 was the Wilmot Proviso, which Benton was represented 
as supporting; see Green's letter in Chapter II. 

The Legislature which had passed the Jackson Resolutions, adopted 
the following "Joint Resolution in relation to the Pacific Railroad," about 
the time Benton introduced his first Central Highway bill in the Senate. 
"Resolved, By the General Assembly of the State of Missouri as follows: 
"§i. That we, the representatives of the people of Missouri view with 
lively interest and the utmost pleasure the efforts of our distinguished 
Senator in Congress, the Honorable Thomas H. Benton, in furtherance of 
the grand project of locating and constructing a national central railroad 
from San Francisco, on the Pacific, to St. Louis on the Mississippi, with a 
branch to the Columbia river, as evidenced by the notice given by him in 


and in behalf of the new Territory, they strongly 
favored the settlement of the slavery question in ac- 
cordance with the principle of popular sovereignty. 
It must be remembered that the principle of popular 
sovereignty appealed with peculiar force to a western 
community like Missouri. Almost three years before 
the celebrated Cass-Nicholson letter, the Legislature 
of Missouri had formally gone on record in favor of 
popular sovereignty as a solution of the question of 
slavery in the Territories. In a memorial to Con- 
gress 240 favoring the early annexation of Texas, it 
was declared 

the Senate of the United States, of his intention to introduce into that body 
a bill providing for the construction and location of said road. 

"§2. That we cordially approve the course of our distinguished Senator 
in relation to this great and national object, and we heartily tender him our 
best wishes for his success in the promotion of this great and laudable 
national enterprise. Approved, March 10, 1849." — Laws of Missouri, 
1848-49, 668. 

240 This memorial was passed by the Legislature which elected Benton 
to the Senate for the last time, and was approved, Jan. 3, 1845. It is 
printed in full, together with the remarks of Benton and Atchison in 
approval, in Cong. Globe, xiv, 154-155- See also Senate Journal, 2d Sess., 
28th Cong., 94-95; Carr's Missouri, 195. The following editorial ap- 
peared in the Missouri Republican, Jan. 22, 1854: 

"The bill .... as presented by Judge Douglas, attempts to avoid 
the agitation of slavery in Congress and to throw its decision upon the 
courts and the people who may occupy the Territory, when it shall be 

sufficiently populated to be admitted as a State into the Union The 

bill .... affirms a principle which we of Missouri contended for when 
we came into the Union and which the nation then conceded to be right. 
.... It affirms the right of the people, when they ask to be admitted as 
a State to come in with or without the institution of slavery, as to them, 

and not to Congress shall seem most expedient The Legislature 

of this State has since confirmed this principle We copy the words 

of a resolution passed by the Legislature of this State and approved 

January 3, 1845 [as quoted above] .... This instruction has 

not been repealed or expunged. It stands upon the statute books with all 
the force of any unrepealed resolution Colonel Benton then in the 


"That in the opinion of this General Assembly, a great ma- 
jority of the people of this State prefer that Texas should be 
annexed to the United States without dividing her territory into 
slaveholding and non-slaveholding States; but leaving that question 
to be settled by the people who now or hereafter, may occupy the 
territory that may be annexed." 241 

A county meeting of "the friends of Nebraska" 
was held in St. Louis on the day of the St. Joseph 
Convention, "composed of the confidential friends 
and mouthpieces of" Benton; at least so said Atchi- 
son. At this meeting speeches were made by W. V. 
N. Boy, Thomas L. Price, B. Gratz Brown, A. 
Kreckel, H. Dusenbury and John A. Kasson. 242 A 
committee of twenty-four reported the resolutions 
through F. P. Blair, Jr., which were unanimously 
adopted. The third of these resolutions was as fol- 

"Resolved, That we are in favor of a territorial govern- 
ment for Nebraska, and that we regard all who oppose it upon 
whatever pretext, as hostile to the best interests of the State." 243 

One fact of importance to note before leaving 
this phase of the subject is that the demands of the 

Senate, took no appeal from it to the people, has never objected to it since 
and now by what right does he refuse to obey this instruction, and insist, 
as it is well understood he will insist, that Nebraska should be made a 
freesoil Territory and eventually a State into which no slaveholder of 
Missouri shall be permitted to enter with his slave property?" 

241 The italics are mine. 

242 After discovering his name in this connection, I wrote to the Hon. 
John A. Kasson asking if he could furnish me with any detailed information 
about the political situation in Missouri at this time. His reply in the 
negative states: "Your inquiries refer to a period fifty years ago, and to 
incidents the memory of which has been overlaid by many later and vital 
historical experiences of the country. I resided in St. Louis from 1850 to 
1857, a period of gestation of bitter party and personal feuds." 

24 3 Quoted in Atchison's letter of June 5, 1854. See Appendix C. 


Andrew County and the St. Joseph meetings were 
made before the assembling of the 33d Congress, 
and that the call for the St. Joseph Convention had 
been issued long before the meeting of Congress. 
Furthermore, the resolutions of that Convention, al- 
though adopted five days after Douglas's report of 
January 4, 244 indicate no knowledge of that report: 
indeed, it is probable that no intelligence of the re- 
port had then reached western Missouri. 

Thus far attention has been concentrated upon 
the interest displayed by Missourians in the organi- 
zation of Nebraska Territory. The bill, however, 
which ultimately became the Kansas-Nebraska Act 
was introduced into Congress by a Senator from the 
State of Iowa. This investigation would therefore 
be incomplete without some mention of the interest 
appearing in that State. Obviously the causes 
which enlisted the interest of the people of Iowa in 
the new Territory differed from those operating with 
the people of Missouri. The interest of the former 
was of course not instigated by the question of slav- 
ery. The meager evidence which has been discov- 
ered nevertheless indicates that the Iowa interest was 
scarcely less profound than that in Missouri. The 
chief cause lay, as in the case of the Wyandotts, in 
the intimate relation of the new Territory to the pro- 
posed railroad to the Pacific. 

In the "Notes" of Governor Walker of Nebras- 
ka is found a reference to perhaps the first manifesta- 
tion of popular interest in Iowa. Referring to the 

244 Taken up in Chapter VII. 


election of Territorial Delegate in October, 1853, 245 
Governor Walker says: 

"Upon canvassing the returns it was found that a third can- 
didate was voted for in the Bellevue precinct, in the person of 
Hadley D. Johnson, Esq., who received 358 votes. From infor- 
mation received from that precinct it appeared that Mr. Johnson 
was an actual resident of Iowa, and at that time a member of the 
Legislature of that State; and an additional circumstance tending 
to vitiate the election in this precinct was that a majority of the 
voters were actual residents of that State. The officers were com- 
pelled to reject these returns " 246 

A newspaper printed in Missouri and containing 
a notice of the election to be held in the Nebraska 
country on the eleventh of October had accidentally 
come into the possession of this Mr. Johnson only a 
few days before the time fixed for the election. Years 
afterwards Mr. Johnson published an account of 
what then took place, of the interest of the Iowans 
in the organization of Nebraska, and of his own part 
in the enactment of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. As 
this is the best evidence which has been discovered 
relative to Iowa's interest in the Nebraska move- 
ment a large part of it is here reproduced. j47 

"On reading this announcement [of the election for a Dele- 
gate to Congress], I immediately communicated the news to prom- 
inent citizens of Council Bluffs, and it was at once decided that 
Iowa should compete for the empty honors connected with the 
delegateship. An election at Sarpy's was determined on ; arrange- 
ments made with the owners of the ferry-boat at that point to 
transport the impromptu emigrants to their new homes, and they 

245 See pages 150, 151. 

246 Connelley's Prov. Gov., 58 ff. 

247 Mr. Johnson's account appeared originally as a paper read before 
the Nebraska State Historical Society, Jan. 11, 1887; it is printed in 
Nebr. State Hist. Soc. Transactions and Reports, ii, 85 ff. 


were accordingly landed on the west shore of the Missouri river 
a few hundred yards above Sarpy's trading house, where, on the 
day appointed, an election was held, the result of which may be 
learned from the original certificate hereto annexed, 248 a copy of 
which was sent to the Honorable Bernhart Henn, the member of 
the house of representatives from Iowa, by him submitted to the 
House, and referred to the committee on elections, but for reasons 
obvious to the reader of the proceedings of Congress immediately 
following, no report was ever made by that committee in the case. 

"I may remark here that I consented with much reluctance 
to the use of my name in this connection, and for several reasons: 
I was poor and could not well afford to neglect my business and 
spend a winter at Washington; the expenses of the trip I knew 
would be a heavy drain upon my limited exchequer ; besides I had 
so lately neglected my private affairs by my services at Iowa 
City. However, I finally yielded to the earnest request of a 
number of my personal friends, who were also ardent friends of 
the new scheme, and consented to the use of my name, at the same 
time pledging my word that I would proceed to Washington, if 
chosen, and do the best I could to advance the cause we had in 
hand. In addition to the ballots cast for me for delegate at this 
election, the Rev. William Hamilton received 304 votes for Pro- 
visional Governor; Dr. Monson H. Clark received 295 for Sec- 
retary, and H. P. Downs 283 for Treasurer. 249 

"These proceedings at Sarpy's landing were followed by va- 
rious public meetings in Iowa (and also in Missouri) at which 
resolutions were adopted, urging the organization of Nebraska 
Territory. Amongst others, meetings were held at Council Bluffs, 
St. Mary's, Glenwood, and Sidney, 250 at which the actions at 

248 A copy of this certificate is in Connellev's Prov. Gov., 84 n. It 
shows that Mr. Johnson received all the votes cast for Delegate, namely, 358. 

249 This is the only reference I have found to the Provisional Govern- 
ment here mentioned. 

250 The National Intelligencer of Dec. 1, 1853, contains this notice of 
the Sidney meeting: "The people of western Iowa are stirring them- 
selves on the subject of a speedy organization of Nebraska Territory. On 
the 7th instant (Nov.) a large meeting of the citizens of three counties 
was held at Sidney over which William C. Means of Page County presided. 


Sarpy's were endorsed. Earnest and eloquent speeches were made 
by such leading citizens as Hon. W. C. Means and Judge Snyder 
of Page County, Judge Greenwood, Hiram P. Bennett, Wm. 
McEwen, Col. J. L. Sharp, Hon. A. A. Bradford, L. Lingen- 
felter, C. W. McKissick, Hon. Benjamin Rector, Charles W. 

Pierce, Dan H. Solomon, Downs, I. M. Dews, George Hep- 

ner, W. G. English, Geo. P. Stiles, Marshall Turley, Dr. H. M. 
Clark, and others. 

"In the month of November, Council Bluffs was visited by 
Hon. Augustus C. Dodge, Col. Samuel H. Curtis, and other 
distinguished citizens of other States, who attended and addressed 
meetings of the people of the town, warmly advocating the con- 
struction of our contemplated railroads, and the organization of 
Nebraska Territory. 251 In its issue of December 14, 1853, the 

The resolutions of the meeting urge 'an early extinguishment of the Indian 
titles therein.' . . . ." 

The same meeting was noticed in the Boston Journal of Dec. 2, 1853: 
"It is said that the people of western Iowa are moving on the subject of a 
speedy organization of the Territory of Nebraska. Three counties held 
a meeting on the subject recently and a general convention of citizens 
was called " 

251 The following is an extract from an editorial in the Iowa State 
Gazette of Dec. 28, 1853: ". . . . Our readers are aware, many of them, 
that Senator Dodge visited the Council Bluff region immediately before 
the meeting of Congress. Although we are not aware of his object in so 
doing, we may presume it was with reference to these important questions 
[Nebraska Territory and the Pacific railroad]. For we observe that he 
has already introduced a bill for the organization of the new Territories. 

What its details and provisions are we are not prepared to say 

It behooves him to be active and the rest of our delegation likewise, for 
the present is big with the fate of Iowa and indeed the whole Northwest." 

The interest of Iowa in Nebraska is reflected in the debate upon the 
Kansas-Nebraska bill. Senator Dodge said: 

". . . . Mr. President, the passage of the bill before us will, in my 
judgment, confer great benefits upon the nation, the West, and especially 
the State ivhich I in part represent. The settlement and occupation of 
Nebraska will accomplish for us what the acquisition and peopling of Iowa 
did for Illinois. Originally I favored the organization of one territory; 
but representations from our constituents, and a more critical examination 
of the subject having an eye to the systems of internal improvement which 
must be adopted by the people of Nebraska and Kansas to develop their 


Council Bluffs Bugle announced that 'H. D. Johnson, delegate elect 
from Nebraska passed through our place on his way to Washington 
last week.' " 2S2 

Thus as we approach the month of December, 
1853, m which the 33d Congress convened, it 
is evident that powerful and geographically related 
agencies were at work in the interest of a new terri- 
torial government west of Missouri and Iowa. It 
seems highly improbable that the members of Con- 
gress who had been conspicuous in the heated local 
discussions relating to Nebraska, which in Missouri 

resources — satisfies my colleague who was a member of the Committee 
that reported the bill, and myself, that the great interests of the whole 
country and especially our State, demand that we should support the 
proposition for the establishment of two territories; otherwise the seat of 
government and leading thoroughfares must have all fallen south of Iowa." 
— Cong. Globe, xxix, 382. 

In the House, Hon. Bernhart Henn, Representative from Iowa, sup- 
ported the measure because "The bill is of more practical importance to the 
State of Iowa, and the people of the district I represent, than to any other 
State or constituency in the Union." — Cong. Globe, xxix, 885. 

252 Another meeting evidently was held at Council Bluffs in December. 
The loiva State Gazette speaks of a meeting being held there on the 
seventeenth, composed of "a respectable number of citizens of Pot- 
tawatomie County." This meeting adopted the following resolution: 
"Resolved, That we heartily approve of the Nebraska Convention to be 
held at St. Joseph [Mo.], January 8 [9], 1854, and that we appoint 
twenty-five delegates to attend said Convention pledging that this sen- 
atorial district will at all times be ready to 'roll on the Nebraska ball' 

until the Indian titles are extinguished and the Territory organized " 

Much enthusiasm prevailed, says the account, "and with three times three 
cheers for Nebraska and its friends in Congress, the Convention adjourned 
to meet on the return of the delegates from the St. Joseph Convention." 

In January following, the Democrats of Pottawattamie County adopted 
the following resolution: "Resolved that the immediate organization of 
Nebraska and the establishment of a territorial government over its citizens 
is a question of national importance and greatly affecting the interests of 
western Iowa, and we should be pleased to have an expression of the 
people of the whole State upon the subject through their delegates at the 
State Convention." — Ibid., Jan. n, 1854. 


had become more heated and acrimonious as Decem- 
ber drew near, would abruptly drop all their personal 
animosities and lose their active interest in Nebraska. 
On the contrary, the belief and expectation that all 
the questions connected with the Nebraska movement 
arising in the West would be transferred to the halls 
of Congress is indicated unmistakably in the follow- 
ing editorial from the Iowa State Gazette. 253 Al- 
though apparently ignorant of Senator Atchison'^ 
recent pledges, the Editor said: 

"The formation of these new Territories will probably be 
one of the most exciting topics of discussion during the present 
session of Congress. From recent indications and from what took 
place at the last session we may anticipate considerable opposition 
to the measure in Congress, while on the part of our western 
population there is great longing to have the rich lands of the 
Platte and Kansas valleys laid open for settlement. Leaving out 
that small class of our citizens who are thus directly interested 
in the settlement of this Territory, the principal feeling upon the 
subject is among the active pro-slavery and anti-slavery men. The 
former will oppose its constitution on the ground that under the 
Missouri Compromise it cannot come into the Union as a slave 
State and must therefore add to the already preponderating in- 
fluence of their adversaries; the latter, or anti-slavery party, will 
urge the formation of the Territory as a means of 'extending the 
area of freedom' and striking another blow at the slave power. 
That this is the correct view of the subject is evident from what 
has already taken place. Senator Atchison at the last session 
opposed the formation of the Territory avowedly because the Com- 
promise precludes the 'peculiar institution' from it; he will prob- 
ably take the same course at the present session. On the other 
hand, Col. Benton who is suspected of not being over friendly to 
the 'institution' will war to the knife in favor of the Territory; 
it is in fact one of his hobbies and no man plies the whip and spur 

253 Dec. 8, 1853. 


harder on that kind of cattle than he does; so we may expect to 
see considerable of a fight upon the subject. As to the Indian 
title, that can be easily disposed of, as the Commissioner has re- 
cently found them quite disposed to the transfer of it, 'for a con- 

That the same expectation was shared by the 
newspapers of the East, both Xorth and South, there 
is abundant evidence. The day after the opening of 
the 33d Congress. :5 ^ the Boston Atlas, the great Whig 
organ of Massachusetts, thus commented on the sit- 
uation, apparently without knowledge of Senator 
Atchison's recent change of attitude toward Ne- 

"In spite of the undisguised nature of the opposition of Sen- 
ator Atchison of Missouri to the organization of this Territory, 
it is very apparent that this event can hardly be much longer 
delayed. He contrived to defeat the necessary measures for this 
purpose in the Senate after they had been passed by the House at 
the last session. He did not hesitate to found his opposition upon his 

unwillingness that it should be organized as a free Territory 

luch alarm has been entertained or expressed in certain 
quarters lest there might be danger of a disregard of this 
[the Missouri restriction] and a settled purpose exist to introduce 
slavery into Nebraska in defiance of it and to make it a slave- 
holding Territory. We have not shared this alarm for we have 
no belief that any attempt, if seriously contemplated, can meet 
th any success in nullifying a law, the existence of which no 
one disputes, the binding force of which no one pretends to deny. ' 

Reference is then made to the meeting of the 
citizens of three counties in Iowa, and it is stated that 
"a strong popular feeling has been awakened at the 
West in favor of the organization of the territorial 
government and the settlement of the Territory." 

Dec. 6, 1853. 


As early as November 15. 1853. the Editor 
of the anti-slavery New York Evening Post clear- 
ly anticipated that the organization of Xebra- 
would be attempted at the next session of Congress 
and incidentally indicated his misinformation regard- 
ing events in Missouri: 

"It is curious to see how much pains are being taken in 
certain quarters to prepare the public mind for the rejection of 

the application to organize the Territory of Nebraska 

Mr. Atchison .... has declared his determination to oppose 
the early organization of the Territory of Nebraska and the open- 
ing of the country to white colonists ^Vhen pressed in 

debate for his reasons, he intimated that he was unwilling to 
consent to the organization of another Territory on the principle 

of the Ordinance of 17S7 This is the secret of the 

intrigues which are now on foot to delay, under various prete.:-. 
the formation of a regular government in Nebraska, and to this 
are owing the endeavors which are so industriously making to 
create the impression in the first place, that they are occupied by 
Indian tribes who mus: first be removed before the settlement of 
this Territory can commence. Mr. Manypenny. the Indian Com- 
missioner at Washington, seems to enter into Mr. Atchison's 
views in regard to this question and labors to render him all aid 
in his power in keeping Nebraska out of the sisterhood of Terri- 
tories, and of course out of the Union as long as possible." -" 
The Washington correspondent of the New 

--- The following occurs in a letter from Alexander S. Latft " Salmon 
P. Chase, dated, Paulding, O., Nov. i, 1S55. found among the Chase rarers 
in the Library of Congress but not published in the Chase Correspondence. 
After urging different reasons against Chase's contemplated resignation from 
the Senate, the writer adds: ". . . . This [resign] I hope you will not do. 
There are many other reasons why you ought not to do it. The Pacific 
railroad, the organization of Nebraska, and many other kindred measures 
will require your assistance and I have no doubt but your successor would 
be found the willing tool of Mr. Atkinson [Atchison] to defeat the lane: 
measure. If either of two certain gentlemen from northwestern Ohio 
should succeed you, I am positive that they would do so and they are aspir- 
ants for the office at present." 


York Journal of Commerce 256 said in commenting 
upon the recommendation of Commissioner Many- 
penny that a territorial government be established 
over Nebraska: 257 

"While upon the subject [Manypenny's report] it may be 
well to mention that the territorial committees of both Houses 
have been formed with a view to prevent, if possible, the intrusion 
of the slavery question into the question of organizing Nebraska 
into a Territory. It is difficult to see why any one should wish 
to raise the question. Col. Benton proposes of course to estab- 
lish the Territory, and admit the State under the provisions of the 
Missouri Compromise which prohibits slavery north of the line 
of 36 30', which is the boundary line between Missouri and 
Arkansas. It seems, however, that Mr. Atchison of Missouri will 
move to repeal that restriction in regard to Nebraska, 258 a Terri- 
tory that will be adequate for several States The [Wash- 
ington] Sentinel remarks that the committee (i.e. the House com- 
mittee) will suppress slavery agitation altogether by abolitionists 
and freesoilers. True, but may not objection come from the other 
side? The freesoilers cannot wish anything else than that the 
matter should stand as it is. We shall see whether this and the 
Senate committee will propose a repeal of the Missouri restriction 
for that will certainly create agitation." 

From the foregoing evidence it is fair to infer 
that before Mr. Douglas reported the Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill in January, 1854, there was knowledge on 
the part of leading newspapers and their readers, 
East and West, North and South, that Colonel Ben- 
ton was actively contesting the reelection of Senator 
Atchison; that the immediate organization of Ne- 
braska Territory and the question of slavery therein 
had become important issues in the Missouri Sena- 

256 Writing Dec. 14, in issue of Dec. 15, 1853. 

257 Contained in his report of Nov. 9, 1853. 
-58 The italics are mine. 


torial fight, and that Colonel Benton would force the 
Nebraska territorial question upon the attention of 
Congress; that there was also widespread knowledge 
of Senator Atchison's determination to oppose any 
bill for the organization of Nebraska which did not 
repeal the Missouri Compromise. 

With all these forces at work — Iowans, Mis- 
sourians and Indians — the Nebraska question was 
certain to assume in the 33d Congress an importance 
greater than in any preceding session, and in all prob- 
ability would have caused a renewal of the slavery 
agitation even if Senator Douglas had not been in 
Congress. That the establishment of a territorial 
government in Nebraska, whether with or without 
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, could have 
been delayed longer seems incredible. If the Terri- 
tory should be organized with the repeal of the Com- 
promise, it would mean a triumph for Senator Atch- 
ison over his antagonist, Benton; if organized with-, 
out the Repeal, it would be a victory for Benton. In 
either case, Atchison was bound to use every effort to 
make good his pledges upon the stump in Missouri. 
The question would inevitably come before the 
Committee on Territories, and Senator Douglas 
would therefore be compelled to take one side or 
the other of the issues raised by Atchison and Benton. 

It is highly significant that in all the foregoing 
evidence of a western origin of the Repeal the name 
of Senator Douglas has scarcely been mentioned. It 
is also highly improbable that he could have had any 
connection with the Nebraska movements in Missou- 
ri, Iowa and Nebraska, and no connection with the 


Repeal movement in Missouri, while these move- 
ments were converging upon the 33d Congress. On 
the fourteenth of May, 1853, he sailed from New 
York City in the steamship Pacific, bound for Eu- 
rope; 259 and the entire summer and autumn of 1853, 
a period of six months, while Benton and Atchison 
were furiously fighting over Nebraska and the Re- 
peal in Missouri, he spent in European travel. He 
did not reach Washington until just a month before 
the 33d Congress convened. 260 The inference there- 
fore seems not unwarranted that, in those pre-cable 
days, he remained ignorant of the development of the 
Nebraska question and of the Repeal agitation until 
very shortly before Congress assembled. 

This inference is strongly supported by a confi- 
dential letter which Senator Douglas wrote to his 
political friends, the Editors of the Illinois State Reg- 
ister 261 — a Democratic newspaper published at 
Springfield — a week after his return to Washington 
and less than a month before Congress opened. It 
was obviously intended to provide his journalistic 
friends with ammunition, so that Senator Douglas 
passes in review the measures which were likely to 
come up for consideration and determination at the 

259 National Intelligencer, May 17, 1853. Mr. Douglas sailed in 
company with Hon. Joseph R. Chandler, a Representative from Pennsyl- 
vania, and Hon. George Briggs, a late Representative from New York. A 
son of this Mr. Chandler writes that his father's papers which might be 
of value in this connection have all been destroyed or scattered. 

260 "Hon. Stephen A. Douglas has returned from his extended European 
tour, and arrived in this city in good health." — National Intelligencer, 
Nov. 5, 1853; Wash. corr. of N. Y. Journal of Commerce, writing Nov. 7, 
in issue of Nov. 9, 1853. 

261 Walker and Lanphier. 


approaching session of Congress and explains briefly 
his attitude upon them: 262 

"Washington, Nov. nth, '53. 
"My dear Friends, 

"Why don't you send me the Register? I have not seen 
a copy for more than six months. I am certainly a subscriber 
to it, altho I may never have paid my subscription. Send me the 
Register that I may see what you are doing and saying. I know 
all is right and that the paper takes the right course, yet I want 
to read it so much the more on that account. I have a few words ] 
to say personal to nwself. I see many of the newspapers are / 
holding me up as a candidate for the next Presidency. I do not ; 
wish to occupy that position. I do not think I will be willing I 
to have my name used. I think such a state of things will exist 
that I shall not desire the nomination. Yet I do not intend to do 
any act which will deprive me of the control of my own action. 
I shall remain entirely non-committal and hold myself at liberty 
to do whatever my duty to my principles and my friends may re- 
quire when the time for action arrives. Our first duty is to the 
cause — the fate of individual politicians is of minor consequence. 
The party is in distracted condition and it requires all our wisdom, 
prudence and energy to consolidate its power and perpetuate its ' 
principles. Let us leave the Presidency out of view for at least two \ 
years to come. 

"I deem it due to you as my old and confidential friend to 
say thus much that you may understand my position. The ad- 
ministration has made some mistakes — indeed many mistakes in 
its appointments, yet I have no personal grievances to complain 
of. I did not expect to be pleased with the great body of appoint- 
ments and have not been disappointed. Yet I shall not judge the 

262 This letter was discovered by Professor Allen Johnson of Bowdoin 
College, author of Stephen A. Douglas: A Study in American Politics 
in which the greater part of the letter appears. It is through the kindness 
of Professor Johnson in furnishing me a complete and accurate copy of 
the letter that I am able to reproduce it here, with the permission of The 
Macmillan Company. 


administration by its appointments. If it stands firmly by the 
faith, if it is sound and faithful in its principles and measures, 
it will receive my hearty and energetic support. I still have faith 
that it will prove itself worthy of our support. It has difficulties 
ahead, but it must meet them boldly and fairly. There is a 
surplus revenue which must be disposed of and the Tariff reduced 
to a legitimate revenue standard. It will not do to allow the 
surplus to accumulate in the Treasury and thus create a pecuniary 
revulsion that would overwhelm the business arrangements and 
financial affairs of the country. The River and Harbor question 
must be met and decided. Now in my opinion is the time to put 
those great interests on a more substantial and secure basis by a 
well-devised system of Tonnage duties. I do not know what the 
administration will do on this question, but I hope they will have 
the courage to do what we all feel to be right. The Pacific Rail 
Road will also be a disturbing element. It will never do to com- 
mence making Rail Roads by the federal government under any 
pretext of necessity. We can grant alternate sections of land as 
we did for the Central Road, but not a dollar from the National 
Treasury. These are the main questions and my opinions are 
foreshadowed as you are entitled to know them. Let me hear 
from you often and freely. 

"Remaining truly your friend, 

"S. A. Douglas." 

The significance of this letter lies chiefly in the 
fact that there is no mention of the organization of 
Nebraska Territory, or of squatter sovereignty, or 
of the applicability to the political situation of 1854 
of any principle derived from the Compromise meas- 
ures of 1850. The inference is not unwarranted that 
the injection of the slavery agitation into the Kansas- 
Nebraska bill was unexpected by Douglas as late as 
three weeks before the opening of the first session of 
the 33d Congress. 

But if Senator Douglas did not perceive the con- 


nection between the Compromise measures of 1850 
and the political situation in 1853-54, there were not 
a few who did. 

There is a widely current but erroneous notion 
that the doctrine of "repeal by supersedure" incor- 
porated in the Kansas-Nebraska bill, was a device 
invented by Senator Douglas to meet a sudden politi- 
cal emergency. This doctrine, briefly stated, was 
that the Compromise measures of 1850 were designed 
to establish a new principle for the settlement of the 
slavery question in all future Territories, which "su- 
perseded" or was "inconsistent with" the old idea of 
a geographical line dividing slave from free territory, 
embodied in the Compromise of 1820. This doctrine 
was not the invention of Senator Douglas. It had 
been previously formulated by at least three Demo- 
cratic newspapers. One was perhaps the most influ- 
ential Democratic paper in the North; the 
other two were influential Democratic papers in 
the South. In their editorial columns they had 
expressly applied this doctrine to the situation pre- 
sented to Congress by the Nebraska territorial move- 
ment. This had occurred more than a month before 
the doctrine was first proclaimed in Congress by Mr. 
Douglas's report accompanying the Kansas-Nebraska 
bill, January 23, 1854. There is not the slightest evi- 
dence that Mr. Douglas had in any degree "inspired" 
these press utterances. Moreover, they assume that 
the problem before Congress is directly the result of 
political conditions in Missouri. 


The following is an editorial of the Richmond 
Enquirer: 263 

"From present indications the proposition to establish a terri- 
torial government in Nebraska will be made the occasion for a 
renewal of anti-slavery agitation in the Federal legislature. It 
may be well, therefore, in advance to inform the public of the 
issues involved in this question 

"When the conquest of California and New Mexico again 
brought the question of territorial extension before Congress, the 
representatives of the North repudiated the Missouri Compromise 
which they had theretofore used to the detriment of the South, 
and by enforcing an absolute prohibition of slavery by Congressional 
enactment, denied to States south of the Compromise line the 
privilege of determining the condition of their own social system. 
This shameless violation of a solemn agreement by a party which 
monopolized all the benefits and repudiated all the burdens of the 
compact affords but one illustration of the uniform and persistent 
perfidy of the North in its warfare against the institutions of the 

"But this was not the only instance of the infraction of the 
Missouri Compromise by the North. When the bill for the estab- 
lishment of a territorial government in Oregon came before Con- 
gress, the representatives of the South recognized the validity of 
the Missouri Compromise and were ready to submit to its legiti- 
mate operation, but .... the representatives of the North 
resolved to repudiate the Missouri Compromise and to introduce 
the Wilmot Proviso into the Oregon bill. That proposition was 
made and was met by a counter proposition declaring that slavery 
was excluded from Oregon by operation of the Missouri Compro- 
mise. The amendment was rejected and the representatives of 
the North in a spirit of insolent triumph resolved to compel the 
South to swallow the Wilmot Proviso 

"Thus did they deliberately repudiate the Missouri Compro- 

263 Quoted in the Mississippian of Dec. 23, 1853. See also the Wash, 
corr. of the New York Herald, Jan. 2, 1854. Compare the phraseology 
here used with Douglas's reply to the Appeal of the Independent Dem- 
ocrats, Jan. 30, 1854, Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 275. 


mise by asserting an independent and inconsistent principle and 
by refusing to discharge the obligations which it imposed in favor 

of the South But the whole story is not yet told. We 

find the North now after having rejected the Missouri Compro- 
mise and after denying by a vote in Congress its efficacy to exclude 
slavery from territory north of 36 30', reasserting now the 
validity of the Compromise which it had repudiated and invoking 
the aid of an obsolete principle to exclude slavery from the 
Territory of Nebraska. But in regard to Nebraska the North 
commits an infraction not of the Missouri Compromise alone, but 
violates also the spirit and intent of the Compromise of 1850 
which leaves a State the right to prohibit or sanction slavery. 
.... To preclude the possibility that Nebraska in organizing 
a State government may choose to authorize slavery, the North 
now proposes to force upon it a territorial government which 
prohibits slavery. In any event by foul means or fair, slavery 
must be excluded from Nebraska. 

"In regard to Nebraska at present the struggle between the 
pro-slavery and anti-slavery party is whether Congress shall forbid 
the existence of slavery or whether the decision of the question 
shall be left to the people in organizing a State government. Mr. 
Benton, the leader of the Abolitionists, insists on the immediate 
establishment of a territorial government which shall prohibit 
slavery. Mr. Atchison, the faithful champion of the South, con- 
tends that the people of Nebraska in organizing a State govern- 
ment shall determine whether slavery shall be admitted or ex- 
cluded I Peopled by immigrants from Missouri and by the fer- 
tility of its soil inviting the labor of the negro, Nebraska if 
allowed the free exercise of its own discretion will soon apply for 
admission as a slave State. It is to prevent this natural, and if 
justice be done, inevitable result, that Mr. Benton, at the instiga- 
tion of the Abolitionists, invokes the aid of the General Govern- 
ment to exclude slavery from Nebraska. We have confidence, 
however, that this free soil platform zuill be baffled by the efforts 
of General Atchison, than whom the South has not a more honest, 
intrepid and vigilant friend." 264 

264 The italics are mine. 


The following appeared as an editorial in the 
Mis sis sip plan : 265 

"The question of the establishment of a territorial government 
for Nebraska which has been raised in Congress .... will put 
to the test the merits claimed for the Compromise settlement of 
1850 by its Southern advocates. It is well known that the South 
acquiesced in the Compromise measures of 1850 (notwithstanding 
their practical effect was to exclude her from a full participation 
in the benefits of the territories acquired from Mexico) on the 
construction placed upon it by its champions that the settlement 
established the principle that the people of a Territory should 
hereafter decide for themselves when they came to be admitted 
as a State whether or not slavery should exist within its bounds. 266 
The advocates of the Compromise contended that this principle 
was clearly and definitively settled and as the price of it they were 
willing to submit to the admission of California into the Union, 
notwithstanding the irregularity of the proceedings that led to it, 
with a constitution inhibiting slavery. They held that the estab- 
lishment of the principle as the permanent policy of the government 
would hereafter produce results highly favorable to the interests of 
the South ; that in future, no claim would be set up by the North 
to a poiuer on the part of the Federal Government to prohibit 
slavery in the Territories, nor to a right to refuse to admit new 
States because they tolerated the institution; that the Wilmot 
Proviso and all similar schemes having for their object the restric- 
tion of slavery within its present bounds with a view to its ultimate 
extermination, would be urged no more; or if urged at all, urged 
but to call down upon the heads of their authors the execration 
of the whole country. 

"It was with this explanation of the main features of the 
Compromise settlement of 1820 [sic, 1850?] and of the conse- 
quence which would flow from it that the Southern people in the 
earnestness of their desire to cultivate amicable relations with their 
brethren of the North consented to acquiesce in, or abide by, that 
series of measures. In reply to the arguments that by the law 

265 Dec. 30, 1853. 

266 Xhe italics are mine. 


admitting Missouri into the Union slavery is prohibited north of 
36 30' and that but little could be expected favorable to the 
South (admitting the principle of non-intervention to have been 
settled) we were told that the North had covenanted henceforth 
to disregard or to annul the restriction in the future management 
of Territories whose geographical bounds otherwise rendered them 
subject to it. 

"The question of organizing the Territory of Nebraska brings 
the matter to a test. The region lies north of the line fixed by 
the Missouri Compromise. That law has never been repealed, 
but the settlement which led to its adoption, the conditions on 
zuhich it was agreed to, were repudiated in 1850, when the North 
felt it to be to her interest to repudiate them. And now the 
question arises, will she require the enforcement of the law of 
1820, or will she stand by the settlement of 1850? .... 

"We are .... assured .... that the anti-slaveryites will 
again fall back upon that repudiated settlement and claim the 
benefit of the clause inhibiting slavery .... north of 36 30' 
in organizing Nebraska Territory " 

On the tenth of December the following editorial 
appeared in the Albany (N. Y.) Argus: 

"Among the subjects to which the attention of Congress is 
likely to be called at an early day is the organization of Nebraska 
Territory. A vast deal of excitement and unnecessary palaver has 
been gotten up under the auspices of certain political manoeuvrers 
in Missouri and other western States upon this subject. The 
Missouri Democrat, and a few other prints in that interest [Ben- 
tonian] have especially devoted themselves to an agitation of the 
subject; and if their statements might be credited it would appear 
that a tremendous combination and conspiracy had been formed 
at the South for the purpose of depriving Nebraska of legal 
government at the hands of Congress. 

"There are two or three questions of no little moment in- 
volved in the matter, and it is due to those of our citizens who 
have emigrated to those Territories and who are awaiting the 
constitutional protection of the Federal Government, that they 
should be determined with as little delay as possible 


There is also a question whether the precedent of non-interference 
with negro slavery, as established in the Territories by the Com- 
promise measures shall be adhered to, 267 or whether the prohibition 
of that institution shall be confirmed by Congress. It is possible 
that the subject may create some sectional feeling on the part of 
the unrepentant devotees of the Wilmot Proviso " 268 

It is interesting and important to note the inter- 
pretation placed by the New York Evening Post of 
the same day upon the few sentences in this editorial 
referring to the precedent established by the Com- 
promise of 1850: 

"The Albany Argus of this morning intimates that there is a 
preliminary matter to be settled which it thus states: 

" 'There is also a question whether the precedent of non- 
interference with negro slavery as established in territories by the 
Compromise measures shall be adhered to, or whether the prohibi- 
tion shall be confirmed by Congress.' 

"Here is a new interpretation of the Compromise opening 
a new quarrel, if there should be audacity enough in any quarter 
to adopt it. It is noiv contended, it seems, that the Compromise 
of 1850 has repealed the Missouri Compromise prohibiting slavery 

267 The italics are mine. 

268 The following occurs in an editorial in the St. Louis Intelligencer 
(Whig), entitled, "Non-Intervention," as early as Nov. 10, 1850: ". . . . 
Let it be understood as a cardinal principle with both parties, that the 
people of the new States and Territories shall in all cases decide for 
themselves without the intervention of Congress, whether slavery shall 

exist among them In conclusion we would remind the Whigs 

that in maintaining the doctrine of non-intervention they are in fact only 
carrying out faithfully the spirit of the late compromise measures, which are 
predicated upon the hypothesis that Congress will not interfere with the 
question of slavery in the Territories, but will leave the people to settle 
the question for themselves. If Whigs and Democrats are faithful to the 
compromise they must of necessity maintain the doctrine of non-intervention. 
If this doctrine is abandoned — if we surrender this truly national ground, 
then we have no common platform on which Northern and Southern 
Whigs can stand, and the consequence will be that we will be split into 
sectional and discordant factions." See also editorial columns of the 
Washington Union, Dec. 4 and 17, 1853. 


in the country north of 36° 30'. 269 At the last session Mr. 
Atchison, hostile as he was to the founding of a civil government 
in Nebraska, acknowledged that there was no way of setting aside 
the provisions of the Missouri Compromise. A method of getting 
rid of it has now, it seems, been invented, but we do not believe 
that it will ever find much countenance in Congress." 

Again on the fourteenth of December, the Al- 
bany Argus had this even more explicit editorial: 

"The Compromise measures of 1 850 which so opportunely 
quieted the dangerously excited jealousies of the different States 
and preserved the Union from the imminent hazard of Civil War, 
embraced one precedent which their framers doubtless intended 
should stand as a guide and landmark for all time. We allude 
to the peculiar feature of the laws organizing the territorial Gov- 
ernments of New Mexico and Utah. In the language of Mr. 
Webster, 'a refusal of all restrictions upon the subject of slavery 
was incorporated' in them; and the words of the bills themselves, 
as reported by the Committee of Thirteen, expressly provided that 
'no law should be passed' by the respective territorial legislatures, 
'in respect to African slavery.' It was upon this basis of non- 
intervention with the social institutions of these half colonial, half 
self-governing dependencies that North and South united. It was 
only upon such a compromise, assured by the labors and most 
patriotic minds of the country, that peace and union can be 

"A precedent thus laid down can scarcely be departed from 
without peril in the future. By it the citizens of a Territory 
are left free, at the moment of framing a State constitution, to 
choose and establish for themselves such domestic institutions as 
accord best with their convenience and their previous preferences 
or habits. The Federal Government exempts and separates itself 
from all connection with, or responsibility for, legislation upon the 
subject of slavery. The principle of self-government is vindicated. 
The centralizing tendency of our federal system is counteracted. 
The assumption of power to legislate where there is no representa- 
tion is avoided. Such are the results of the far-reaching and 

269 The italics are mine. 


statesmanlike doctrine of the 'Nicholson letter' carried into prac- 
tical operation. 

"Such, as we understand it, is all that is claimed in any 
quarter, in relation to the proposed organization of Nebraska. 
The Missouri Compromise undertook to provide on the part of 
Congress where slavery should and where it should not exist. 
The Compromise of 1850 established the precedent that without 
interference from Congress it should exist wherever the people 
of a State should have established it "270 

Thus in the month of December, 1853, almost 
at the psychological moment for utilization by Sen- 
ator Atchison and Senator Douglas, had the doctrine 
of supersedure been definitely formulated and specif- 
ically applied to Nebraska Territory. 

270 Two days later [December 16] the Argus had this edito- 
rial: ". . . . The Compromise men of the North do not hesitate 
to express it as their preference that Nebraska should prohibit slavery as 
emphatically as the State of New York has done. But it must be done 
by the people themselves interested, in proper time and when the population 
of the incoming State shall begin to be fixed and settled. They stand 
by the principle of the Nicholson letter of General Cass now and hereafter, 
and insist that by that rule all future disputes shall be settled. The bill 
for the organization of the new Territory now before the Senate is under- 
stood to reaffirm the exclusive and invidious legislation of the Missouri 
Compromise, and no friend of the peace and permanence of our Union 
can fail to reprobate and oppose the relighting of a flame which cannot 
be stifled by official assurances and which may defy another attempt to stay 
its ravages." 


The Congressional Aspects of the Missouri Contest-The Ne- 
braska Bill in the 33d Congress-The Evidence of Washing- 
ton Correspondents-Pressure upon Douglas to Champion the 
Repeal— The Influence of Senator Atchison-Report of Jan- 
uary 4, 1854-Dixon's Amendment-The Administration. 

Having traced the local beginnings of the Ne- 
braska territorial movement in the West, it now be- 
comes necessary to take up the Congressional aspects 
of the Missouri fight and show their connection with 
the early legislative history of the Kansas-Nebraska 

On December 5, 1853, the day on which the 33d 
Congress opened, Senator A. C. Dodge of Iowa gave 
notice of his intention to introduce a bill for the or- 
ganization of a territorial government for Nebras- 
ka, 2n which he did introduce on the fourteenth. The 
bill was immediately referred to the Committee on 
Territories of which Mr. Douglas was the chairman 
as well as the most prominent and influential mem- 
ber. 272 In the House a Nebraska bill, practically 

271 Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, i. 

272 Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 44. This Committee consisted of Doug- 
las, of Illinois, Gen. Sam Houston, of Texas, Robert W. Johnson, of Arkan- 
sas, and George W. Jones, of Iowa, Democrats; and John Bell, of Tennes- 
see, and Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, Whigs. The Free and the 
Slave States were thus equally represented on this very important Com- 


the duplicate of Senator Dodge's bill, was introduced 
by Hon. J. G. Miller of Missouri on the twenty-sec- 
ond of December, 273 and immediately referred to 
the Committee on Territories of which Hon. W. A. 
Richardson of Illinois was chairman. 

The real significance of these facts has been 
missed by historians who, approaching the origin of 
the Repeal through the pages of the Congressional 
Globe, have been unduly impressed with the prom- 
inent part played by Senator Douglas. They have 
assumed that it originated with a Senator who had 
spent the summer and early autumn of 1853 in 
Europe, and had returned to Washington only a 
month before Congress met; and who has left good 
evidence that the reopening of the slavery agitation 
in connection with Nebraska Territory was unex- 
pected by him three weeks before Congress con- 
vened. 274 Whereas the fact is that the questions in- 
volved in the Nebraska territorial movement were 
forced upon the attention of the committees of which 
Mr. Douglas and his colleague in the House were 
the chairmen, possibly against their will and appar- 
ently without much foreknowledge on the part of 
Senator Douglas, by representatives of the two States 
most deeply interested. 

It is not strange that a great degree of mystery 
should heretofore seem to have surrounded the re- 
peal of the time-honored Missouri Compromise. 
The difficulty has been to get behind the scenes and 
discover what was going on in and around the halls 

273 Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 87. 

274 The letter to Walker and Lanphier, quoted in preceding chapter. 


of Congress between the fifth of December, and the 
twenty- third of January. 275 The pages of the Con- 
gressional Globe record only results. Of the process- 
es by which those results are achieved, there is seldom 
any record. Politicians, as well as the Almighty, 
often "move in a mysterious way" their "wonders 
to perform." One cannot expect, in the nature of 
the case, to get much evidence of what was occurring 
in the corridors and committee rooms at the Capitol, 
and at the lodgings of Senators and Representatives. 
Nevertheless we are not left entirely in the dark. 
One source of information little used by previous 
writers sheds considerable light upon what was tak- 
ing place outside the Senate Chamber and the Hall 
of Representatives. Upon the testimony of the 
"Washington Correspondents" of the great news- 
papers of the day, it must be admitted, implicit re- 
liance for accuracy cannot be placed; but in the ab- 
sence of contradicting evidence, their testimony may 
be entitled to greater weight than would otherwise 
be the case. Especially will this be true if their 
testimony fits with surprising exactness into the facts 
presented in the preceding chapters. 

"Notice has been given in Congress of the in- 
troduction of a bill for the creation of a territorial 
government for Nebraska," wrote "Fairfax," the 
Washington Correspondent of the Richmond En- 
quirer within a week after the opening of Congress. 276 
To "Fairfax" it was plain that Congress would wit- 

275 That is to say, between the opening of Congress and the reporting 
of the Kansas-Nebraska bill in the Senate. 

276 Writing Dec. n, in issue of Dec. 16, 1853. 


ness a renewal of the slavery agitation as a direct re- 
sult of political conditions in Missouri. 

"This subject," he went on to say, "is one of great interest 
and will create much feeling. The freesoilers led on by Mr. Ben- 
ton will make every effort to hasten on a territorial organization, 
hoping thereby to be able to exclude slavery from it. This gen- 
tleman announced some time ago in Missouri that Nebraska was 

open for settlement The facts relating to the matter should 

be understood and the objects of Mr. Benton and those who 
act with him cannot be mistaken. To prevent the Southerners 
from carrying their property into Nebraska, to have another 
free State touching the slave State of Missouri, to influence the 
next August elections in Missouri, and the presidential campaign 
of 1856: these are the objects of Mr. Benton and his freesoil 

Writing ten days later the same Correspondent 
again called attention to the subject of Nebraska and 
to Mr. Atchison's attitude: 277 

". . . . The President of the Senate, Mr. Atchison, is pledged 
by his speeches before the people of Missouri to move the repeal 
of the laiu prohibiting slavery in the Territory north of the parallel 
°f 3*5° 30' '• He will oppose the Nebraska territorial bill and 
insist upon the admission of slavery into the Territory, if it be 
established at all, both on the original constitutional ground, and 
also upon the ground that it would be prejudicial to the interests 
of Missouri to be surrounded by a cordon of free States. Mr. 
Douglas will soon report the Nebraska bill and we shall witness 
a renewal thereupon of slavery agitation. In fine as long as slavery 
exists it will be a subject of political or religious or sectional or 
philanthropic agitation. Let it be known that at all events the 
great feature of the opening of the 33d Congress is the slavery 
discussion and that too in a House remarkable beyond its prede- 
cessors for men of experience and moderation and general ability." 

277 Writing Dec. 24, in issue of Dec. 26, 1853. The italics are mine. 


Even the distant Missouri Republican had its 
Correspondent at Washington. 278 

"Old Bullion was not so far out," he wrote, "when he said 
slavery and Nebraska would be the questions of the session. The 
proceedings in respect to the Territories are yet somewhat vague 
and indefinite but some very interesting and important propositions 
have been laid before the Committee by the outsiders who assume 
to regulate their deliberations ; and from the present aspect of this 
subject, I am inclined to think that the freesoilers have rather 
caught a Tartar with this Nebraska question and don't know 
what to do with him. It is well known that Mr. Atchison, Col. 
Manypenny and the conservatives on the question that lies under 
and beyond the organization of Nebraska were willing to waive the 
agitation this winter Now, however, the ball is opened. 

278 Writing Dec. 31, in issue of Jan. 7, 1854. Almost a week before 
this correspondent had written: "The war between Col. Benton on the 
one hand, and Atchison, Gwin [Senator from Cal.], Phelps, Lamb [two 
Representatives from Missouri], and the general body of the regular 
Democracy on the other hand, goes merrily on. Nebraska and the Pacific 
railroad may be considered the field of strife, the seat in the Senate, and 
sundry local offices in Missouri, the bones over which the growling and 
fighting is immediately going on. A few days since, Mr. Benton made a 
characteristic article in the Intelligencer assailing Senator Gwin and the 
officers in the army because Gwin had read letters from some of the 
latter declaring that the more southern route was the best for the railroad 
by a course of reasoning clear, direct, and conclusive as a buffalo trail 
to a salt lick. Col. Benton showed that all the opposition to his central 
route sprang from a deadly hostility to him and Fremont, which hostility 
originated in the fact that they had not come into public life through the 
West Point Gate. Dr. Gwin replies in four columns of the same paper 
charging several things upon Benton and among the rest alleging that his 
central route is a humbug which if persevered in will carry the railroad 
entirely out of Missouri. Somebody remarked to Mr. Benton yesterday that 
Gwin's reply had rather used him up, to which he is said to have re- 
sponded: 'Sir, I will slice him into fragments. Sir, I will demolish him. 
Yes, Sir!' .... Mr. Benton with all his talents and information on 
public affairs is like the 'fretful porcupine' pointing a quill, often tipped 
with gall, at every passer-by. The destiny of the sons of Ishmael seems 
to be his, 'he has turned his hands against every man and every man's 
hand is against him!'" In issue of Dec. 23, 1853. Compare this last with 
Rogers's Benton, 315 ff. 


The frcesoilers have set forth their program, which is 'Nebraska 
immediately if not sooner.' . . . ." 

It is not an unwarranted inference from this com- 
munication that some pressure was being brought to 
bear upon the Committee on Territories — which, so 
far as practical legislation was concerned, meant Mr. 
Douglas — to report the Nebraska bill in such a 
form that it would bear a direct relation to the po- 
litical situation in Missouri. Indeed one might very 
reasonably expect that such pressure would be 
brought to bear on Senator Douglas. We have seen 
that the Nebraska territorial question was bound to 
and did come before the Committee on Territories 
when Congress met. Senator Douglas was thus 
obliged to act, and to act either with the conservative, 
slavery-restrictionist element in the Democratic par- 
ty, or with the radical, pro-slavery wing. He him- 
self declared afterwards that he had been no "vol- 
unteer" in the matter: "I have been Chairman of 
the Committee on Territories for the past ten years," 
he said, "and it was my duty to act in this matter and 
bring forward this bill. / ivas no volunteer in this 
matter. It devolved upon me as a duty." ' Whence 
came this outside pressure and what were the consid- 
erations which determined with which wing of the 
party he would cooperate? 

279 The italics are mine. This declaration was made by Mr. Douglas 
in the course of a speech at the Illinois State Agricultural Fair on the 
third of October, 1854, five months after the passage of the Kansas- 
Nebraska bill. The speech is reported in the Missouri Republican, Octo- 
ber 6, 1854. Mr. Lincoln was present, and the next day replied to Mr. 
Douglas in a four-hour speech. There is also a brief account of these 
speeches in the Weekly Democratic Press (Chicago), October 14, 1854. 


Some time after the Repeal, 280 Senator Atchison 
claimed that he came to Washington with pledges 
to the people of Missouri hardly cold upon his lips 
to support a Nebraska territorial bill on condition 
that it should repeal the Missouri Compromise. He 
therefore desired to be chairman of the Committee 
on Territories when the Nebraska bill was to be in- 
troduced, with the object, one may fairly assume, of 
obtaining full credit in Missouri for his efforts in 
this direction. With this purpose in mind, Mr. 
Atchison claimed to have had an interview with 
Senator Douglas at which he informed Mr. Douglas 
of what he desired, the introduction of a bill for 
Nebraska like the one he had promised to vote for, 
and that he would like to be chairman of the Com- 
mittee on Territories in order to introduce such a 
measure. If he could get that position, he would 
immediately resign as President pro tempore of the 
Senate. Mr. Douglas, according to Atchison's story, 
requested time to consider the matter, saying that if, 
at the expiration of a given time, he could not intro- 
duce such a bill as Senator Atchison proposed and 
which would at the same time accord with his own 
sense of right and justice to the South, he would 
resign as chairman of the Committee in Democratic 
caucus, and exert his influence to get Atchison ap- 

No good reason exists for rejecting the fore- 
going claim of Senator Atchison. There is nothing 

280 Sept. 20, 1854, in a speech at Atchison in Kansas Territory. Ap- 
pendix E contains two accounts of this speech and a discussion of Douglas's 
denial of its correctness. 


in it which is improbable, or unreasonable. On the 
contrary it was most natural in view of Senator Atch- 
ison's obvious interest in the subject. If, to his per- 
sonal interest, the further fact be added that Atchison 
and Douglas were close friends, 281 that Douglas en- 
tertained a strong dislike'of Benton, 282 that within 
the two years preceding Douglas on more than one 
occasion had gone over into Missouri to aid the Atch- 
ison faction against Benton, 283 the probability of 
Atchison seeking the cooperation of Mr. Douglas at 
this critical moment becomes almost a certainty- 
Assuming that Atchison sought to influence Sen- 
ator Douglas, it is easy to see how powerful an appeal 
he could make for the incorporation into Dodge's Ne- 
braska bill, when in Douglas's committee, of a clause 
which in effect should repeal the Compromise re- 
striction. It is fair to argue that Senator Atchison's 
political necessity might have been so presented as to 
appear as Douglas's great political opportunity. In 
the first place, by championing the Repeal Mr. Doug- 

281 See Washington correspondent of the Missouri Republican quoted 
on pages 220, 221. 

282 ibid. 

283 The following which occurs in the course of a long letter of F. P. 
Blair, Jr., to the Missouri Democrat, dated March 1, 1856, inferentiallv at 
least supports the idea of a friendship existing between Atchison and 
Douglas, or at least the existence of a feeling of hostility between Douglas 
and Colonel Benton: 

"Mr. Douglas especially has taken the trouble, on several occasions 
within the last two years, to visit the State of Missouri, to give aid and 
comfort to the 'Nullifiers and Rottens,' the 'Shinplaster Democracy,' who 
have been warring on Old Bullion here since the advent of Tyler. They 
deserve to be betrayed who harbored and cherished this restless intriguer 

whilst he was assailing the most illustrious of living Democrats " 

See Rev. Pol. Action, 76. 


las would be assisting a political and personal friend 
in dire straits. Furthermore, he would be placing 
the radical wing of the Southern Democracy under 
obligation to himself, and thus would very mate- 
rially increase his chances of obtaining the pres- 
idential nomination in 1856. The principle of 
popular sovereignty would afford ground upon 
which the rank and file of the factions in Mis- 
souri might unite in harmony, since each faction had 
but recently declared in favor of that method of de- 
ciding the 'Vexed" question; and this would enhance 
the popularity of the measure in other portions of 
the West. Ready at hand was a plausible justifica- 
tion for attaching the repeal feature to the Nebraska 
bill; Democratic newspapers had already interpreted 
the Compromise of 1850 as applicable to Nebraska. 
Loyalty to that Compromise as thus interpreted could 
be made a test of political orthodoxy in New York 
where the party was suffering from serious internal 
dissensions. Moreover, to this basis for the Repeal 
objections from either of the two national parties 
would be forestalled by the doctrine of super- 
sedure, for both parties stood committed to the final- 
ity of the Compromise of 1850. If, in addition to 
this, it be conceded that Mr. Douglas was a sincere 
believer in the dogma of popular sovereignty, it re- 
quires no abnormal imagination to conceive how 
effectively a personal and political friend could have 
appealed to Mr. Douglas to assume official responsi- 
bility for the Repeal. In a word, it might have been 
presented as a turning point in Senator Douglas's 
political career. One path seemed to lead to the 


highest political reward, the realization of his pres- 
idential aspirations. The other seemed to involve 
resignation from the chairmanship of the Committee 
on Territories, in those years perhaps the most prom- 
inent, perhaps the most important, Committee in 
the Senate, with a consequent loss of prestige in both 
the West and the South. Even to a less "practical" 
politician than Mr. Douglas the appeal might well 
prove irresistible. That Senator Douglas should 
have hesitated and weighed the consequences was 
most natural, for clearly the situation marked a crisis 
of which he must have been fully conscious. 284 

Senator Atchison did not arrive in Washington 
until late in November, 285 and whatever conversa- 
tion upon this subject he may have had with Mr. 
Douglas doubtless occurred in December and prob- 
ably during the three weeks 286 after the Walker and 
Lanphier letter and while the Dodge bill was in 
the hands of Douglas's committee. Toward the 
end of that period it began to leak out that some- 
thing unusual was under consideration. The Cor- 
respondent of the Baltimore Sun wrote : 2i 

". . . . The Senate Committee on Territories has it [the 
Nebraska bill] under consideration and will probably report in 

284 If proof of this were needed, there is the well-known letter of 
Senator Archibald Dixon of Kentucky to Henry S. Foote, which, stripped 
of its melodramatic garb, certainly indicates hesitation and consciousness 
of a crisis on the part of Mr. Douglas. This letter is given in Flint's 
Life of Douglas, 138 ff; Mrs. Dixon's True History of the Missouri Com- 
promise, 445-448. 

285 Atchison's letter to the editor of the Missouri Examiner, in the 
Washington Union, Dec. 23, 1853. 

286 From Dec. 14, 1853, to January 4. 1854. 

287 Quoted in the Cincinnati Inquirer, Jan. 3, 1854. 


favor of the organization of more than one territorial government. 
A plan has been proposed also to avoid the opposition to the bill 
which has been threatened by Mr. Atchison in his addresses to the 
people of Missouri. Some means will be adopted for the pre- 
vention of the threatened revival of the slavery question in this 

About the same time the Correspondent of the 
Charleston Courier had evidently been admitted to 
inside information, for he wrote to his paper: 2i 

"The speeches of Senator Atchison in Missouri pledge him 
and his constituents mutually to raise a storm here against the 
slavery restriction when the subject of Nebraska Territory shall 
come up. That the question is certain to come off I have 
heard from all quarters. I have conversed with some members 
of the Senate committee on territories, however, and they think 
they will be able to give the bill a form which will suit all parties 
in relation to the admission of slaves. They ivill put the project 
on the basis of the Compromise of 1850, as applicable to the Ter- 
ritories of New Mexico and Utah " 

By the fourth of January, Senator Douglas seems 
to have reached a decision. On that day he reported 
back to the Senate the Nebraska bill introduced 
by Senator Dodge. It had made no reference to the 
subject of slavery; but it now carried important 
amendments relating to that subject and was accom- 
panied by a special report of an unusual nature. 2i 
The amendments constituted a new section : 

"Section 21. And be it further enacted, That in order to 
avoid all misconstruction, it is hereby declared to be the true 
intent and meaning of this act, so far as the question of slavery is 
concerned, to carry into practical operation the following prop- 

288 Writing Dec. 28, 1853, in issue of Jan. 2, 1854. The italics are mine. 
See also Washington correspondent of the N. Y. Journal of Commerce, in 
issue of Dec. 27, 1853, and Rhodes's Hist, of U. S., i, 431 n. 

289 Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 222. 


ositions and principles established by the compromise measures of 
1850, to-wit: 

"First: That all questions pertaining to slavery in the Terri- 
tories and in the new States to be formed therefrom, are to be left 
to the decision of the people residing therein, through their appro- 
priate representatives. 

"Second: That 'all cases involving title to slaves,' and 'ques- 
tions of personal freedom,' are referred to the adjudication of the 
local tribunals, with the right of appeal to the Supreme Court of 
the United States. 

"Third: That the provisions of the Constitution and laws 
of the United States, in respect to fugitives from service, are to be 
carried into faithful execution in all the 'organized Territories,' the 
same as in the States." 

In the report which accompanied the bill, 290 
and of which Mr. Douglas was probably the author, 
the Committee took occasion to commend to the Sen- 
ate the principal amendments to the Dodge bill upon 
the ground that by those amendments 

"The principles established by the compromise measures of 
1850, so far as they are applicable to territorial organizations, are 
proposed to be affirmed and carried into practical operation within 
the limits of the new Territory." 

The Committee then went on to state what they 
regarded as having been the object and intent of the 
Compromise measures of 1850: 

"In the judgment of your Committee, those measures were in- 
tended to have a far more comprehensive and enduring effect than 
the mere adjustment of the difficulties arising out of the recent 
acquisitions of Mexican territory. They were designed to estab- 
lish certain great principles, which would not only furnish adequate 
remedies for existing evils, but, in all time to come, avoid the 
perils of a similar agitation, by withdrawing the question of slavery 
from the halls of Congress and the political arena, and committing 

290 Senate Reports, ist Sess., 33d Cong., i, No. 15. 


it to the arbitrament of those who were immediately interested in, 
and alone responsible for its consequences." 

With a view to making their action conform to 
what they regarded as the settled policy of the Gov- 
ernment, "sanctioned by the approving voice of the 
American people," the Committee 

"deemed it their duty to incorporate and perpetuate, in their 
territorial bill, the principles and the spirit of ... . [the com- 
promise] measures." 

The discussion of the bill then went over until 
the twenty-third of January. In the meantime, how- 
ever, Senator Archibald Dixon of Kentucky, a Whig 
who was serving out the unexpired term of Henry 
Clay, gave notice that when the bill should come up 
for consideration he would offer an amendment, 291 
in the form of an added section, providing that the 
Missouri Compromise restriction upon slavery 

"shall not be so construed as to apply to the Territory con- 
templated by this act, or to any other Territory of the United 
States; but that the citizens of the several States and Territories 
shall be at liberty to take and hold their slaves within any of the 
Territories of the United States, or of the States to be formed 
therefrom, as if the said . . [prohibition] had never been passed." 
In other words, Senator Dixon, although a Whig, 
proposed to apply to this new Nebraska Territory 
the simon-pure Calhoun doctrine, which Senator 
Atchison had been supporting in Missouri. 

On the twenty-third of January, Mr. Douglas 
called up the Nebraska bill, and for the Committee 
on Territories, reported a substitute bill for the one 
reported on January 4. This new bill divided the 
territory described in the earlier bill and provided 


Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 175. 


for the organization of the two Territories, Kansas 
and Nebraska. 292 The bill, henceforth known as the 

292 Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 221. The following story of the way in 
which the organization of two Territories came about is told by Iladley D. 
Johnson. Incidentally it indicates that Mr. Douglas was quite susceptible 
to outside influences. 

"Before starting [for Washington] .... a number of our citizens 
who took such a deep interest in the organization of a Territory west of 
Iowa, had on due thought and consultation agreed upon a plan which I 
had formed, which was the organization of two Territories west of the 
Missouri river, instead of one as had heretofore been contemplated, and I 
had traced on a map hanging in the office of Johnson & Cassidy a line 
which I hoped would be the southern boundary of Nebraska, which it did 

finally become, and so continues to the present time Hon. A. C. 

Dodge, Senator from Iowa, who had from the first been an ardent friend 
and advocate of my plan, introduced me to Judge Douglas, to whom I 
unfolded my plan, and asked him to adopt it, which after mature considera- 
tion, he decided to do, and he agreed that, as Chairman of the Committee 
on Territories, he would report a substitute for the pending bill, which 
afterwards he did do, and this substitute became the celebrated 'Nebraska 
Bill,' and provided, as you know, for the organization of the Territories of 

Kansas and Nebraska " Compare with Senator Dodge's remarks, 

quoted in note 251. 

"In our negotiations as to the dividing line a good deal of trouble 
was encountered, Mr. [Thomas] Johnson and his Missouri friends being 
very anxious that the Platte river should constitute the line, which obviously 
would not suit the people of Iowa, especially as I believed it was a plan 
of the American Fur Company to colonize the Indians north of the Platte 
river. As this plan did not meet with the approbation of my friends 
or myself, I firmly resolved that this line should not be adopted. Judge 
Douglas was kind enough to leave that question to me, and I offered 
to Mr. Johnson the choice of two lines, first, the present line, or second, 
an imaginary line traversing that divide between the Platte and the Kaw. 
"After considerable parleying, and Mr. Johnson not being willing to 
accept either line, I finally offered the two alternatives — the fortieth degree 
of north latitude, or the defeat of the whole bill, for that session at least. 
After consulting with his friends, I presume, Mr. Johnson very reluctantly 
consented to the fortieth degree as the dividing line between the two Terri- 
tories, whereupon Judge Douglas prepared and introduced the substitute. 
, . .'• — Nebr. State Hist. Soc. Trans, and Reports, ii, 80. See Douglas's 
explanation of the division given in his speech of Jan. 23, 1854, Cong. 
Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 221. 


Kansas-Nebraska bill, 293 contained the following 

"Section 14 The Constitution, and all laws of the 

United States which are not locally inapplicable, shall have the 
same force and effect within the said Territories as elsewhere in 
the United States, except the eighth section of the act preparatory 
to the admission of Missouri into the Union, approved March 6, 
1820, which was superseded by the principles of the legislation of 
1S50, commonly called the compromise measures, and is declared 

Historians have been somewhat puzzled by the 
fourth of January report, by the Dixon amendment, 
and by the substitution of a bill creating two Ter- 
ritories and expressly repealing the Missouri Com- 

If we take into consideration the difficult prob- 
lem confronting Senator Douglas after the opening 
of Congress, his natural hesitation before committing 
himself to the solution which the interests of Senator 
Atchison demanded, and the desire of the Iowa Dele- 
gate, Hadley D. Johnson, for two Territories, the 
puzzle becomes simplified. 

It is not unfair to regard the fourth of January 
bill and report as in the nature of an experiment. 
Mr. Douglas has now decided to pursue the course 
desired by the Senator from Missouri. Just which 
consideration was decisive, it is impossible to say. 
But having reached a decision Mr. Douglas may well 
have been troubled with serious doubts as to the best 
method of formulating the legislation necessary to 
effect the Repeal. He would naturally take the 

293 For a brief history of the change in title from "Nebraska-Kansas" 
bill to the "Kansas-Nebraska" bill, see Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., ix, 117 n. 


greatest pains to choose language as mild, as plausi- 
ble as possible, and not likely to provoke the hostility 
of the anti-slavery wing of his party. The Re- 
peal must be disguised under the most carefully se- 
lected phraseology in order to avoid, if possible, a 
renewal of the slavery agitation. The bill must be 
made acceptable to all parties; and so he attempts a 
compromise. Hence the extraordinary pains be- 
trayed in this extraordinary report to gloss over the 
real significance of what was being done; hence the 
mild and circumlocutory phraseology. Mr. Doug- 
las is feeling his way, endeavoring to ward off agita- 
tion. The bill and report of January 4 constitute a 
vain attempt to accomplish the Repeal by a sort of 
compromise measure based upon an analogy be- 
tween the divergent views in 1850 regarding the 
status of slavery under Mexican law in the territory 
acquired from Mexico, and the divergent views in 
1854 regarding the validity of the Missouri Compro- 
mise prohibition of slavery in the territory acquired 
from France. 

His efforts-were in vain. The anti-slavery lead- 
ers at once took alarm. 294 The pro-slavery leaders 
were dissatisfied at the ambiguous language. And so 
Senator Dixon, another friend of Senator Atchi- 
son, gave notice of his amendment repealing the 
Missouri Compromise in the most explicit terms. 2? 

294 Hence the "Appeal of the Independent Democrats in Congress," 
Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 281. 

295 "On examining that bill [Nebraska bill of January 4] it struck me 
that it was deficient in one material respect; it did not in terms repeal the 
restrictive prohibition in regard to slavery embodied in the Missouri Com- 
promise. This, to me, was a deficiency that I thought it imperiously neces- 
sarv to supply:" — Dixon to Foote, in Flint's Life of Douglas, 139. 


There is no evidence upon the point, but it is 
not unreasonable to suppose that Mr. Atchison or 
his friends may, for the purpose of influencing 
Mr. Douglas, have instigated this action by Senator 
Dixon, who, although a Whig, when it came to slav- 
ery, "knew no Whiggery and knew no Democ- 
racy." 296 It would be shrewd politics to startle Sen- 
ator Douglas, to make him apprehensive that his 
political thunder was to be stolen, and by a Whig! 
If therefore he wished to turn the Repeal to his own 
political profit there must be no ambiguous hedging, 
no measure the legal effect of which could be open 
to question. At any rate, there is evidence that Sen- 
ator Douglas was disconcerted by Senator Dixon's 
manoeuvre. 297 This convinced him that the radicals 
were determined to push the Repeal whether with 
or without his help, and that if he was to make politi- 
cal capital out of it, the time had arrived, at least so 
far as the language of the bill was concerned, to come 
out boldly, unreservedly and unequivocally in sup- 
port of the Repeal. So within a week after Senator 
Dixon's notice Mr. Douglas reported the substitute, 
or Kansas-Nebraska bill, of January 23, repealing the 
Missouri Compromise in terms clear and unmistak- 
able, and so satisfactory to the radical Senator Dixon 
that he withdrew his amendment. 298 By the twenty- 

296 Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 240. 

297 "My amendment seemed to take the Senate by surprise, and no 
one appeared more startled than Judge Douglas himself." — Dixon to Foote. 

298 "The Senator from Kentucky, on the sixteenth of January, submitted 

an amendment which came square up to the repeal That amendment 

probably produced some fluttering and some consultations. It met the 
views of Southern Senators, and probably determined the shape which the 


third of January, therefore, the Rubicon is crossed: 
henceforth there must be no retreating, no equivocat- 
ing, if Mr. Douglas expected to gain anything. That 
he met the Whirlwind of wrath which ensued as suc- 
cessfully as he did is perhaps the best commentary 
upon his courage and cleverness as a politician and 
his ability as a debater and popular orator. 

But before committing himself finally and ir- 
revocably to the Repeal, Mr. Douglas and those more 
personally interested in the success of the measure 
realized the essential importance of securing the sup- 
port of the Administration. In the week between 
the Dixon amendment and the twenty-third of Jan- 
uary, this support was secured. The account of the 
way in which it was brought about as told by the Cor- 
respondent of the New York Herald 2 " is not only 
interesting but significant for the prominence which 
it gives to Senator Atchison in accomplishing the 
desired result; also, as will appear later, for the prom- 
inence given to the names of Senators Hunter and 
Mason of Virginia. 

". . . . The Cabinet was in session all day yesterday and to 
a late hour in the evening discussing the merits of the Nebraska 

bill and the amendment proposed by Senator Dixon 

The result of the Cabinet deliberations yesterday has been an 

bill has finally assumed. Of the various mutations which it has under- 
gone, I can hardly be mistaken in attributing the last [Jan. 23] to the 

amendment of the Senator from Kentucky I know of no cause 

which will account for the remarkable changes which the bill underwent 
after the sixteenth of January, other than that amendment, and the deter- 
mination of Southern Senators to support it, and to vote against any pro- 
vision recognizing the right of any territorial legislature to prohibit the 
introduction of slavery." — Chase in Senate, Feb. 3, 1854. Cong. Globe, 
xxix, 135. 

299 Writing Jan. 22, in issue of Jan. 23, 1854. 


agreement to have an amendment offered in the Senate by way of 
compromise adding to the 21st section of the Nebraska bill a 
proviso to the effect that the rights of persons and property shall 
be subject only to the restrictions and limitations imposed by the 
Constitution of the United States and the acts giving govern- 
ments, to be adjusted by a decision of the Supreme Court of the 
United States " 

Writing on the twenty-third of January, 300 the 
day on which the Kansas-Nebraska bill was substi- 
tuted, the same Correspondent said: 

"The past twenty-four hours have witnessed a complete 
somersault of the President and Cabinet on the Nebraska matter. 
In order to understand the whole matter we must give a brief 
narrative. The amendment which was sent you yesterday was 
submitted by Mr. Breckenridge of Kentucky and Mr. Phillips 
of Alabama to Judge Douglas, who, it was understood, was pre- 
pared with an amendment declaring the Missouri Compromise 
inoperative. The same amendment he offered to-day. Mr. Doug- 
las stated that he had no particular objections to the Cabinet 
amendment, if the South would consent to accept it; for he con- 
sidered his bill as originally reported in fact amounting to an 
abrogation of the Missouri Compromise. The gentlemen then 
called upon several leading men, Messrs. Atchison, Mason, Hunt- 
er, [the italics are mine] and others, and discovered that the 
Cabinet amendment would not go down at all. This fact having 
been communicated to the President, he begged his friends to 
get the leading members together for consultation yesterday (Sun- 
day). The result of this consultation was an agreement that the 
amendment presented to-day by Judge Douglas should be agreed 
upon and the South would resist any other amendment upon the 
bill. [Here the amendment is quoted.] .... It will be 
seen that it does not use the word 'repeal' .... but substitutes 
the words 'supersedes' and 'inoperative.' This is done to avoid 
the opposition of the ultra Southern men who contend that the 
Missouri law is unconstitutional and who would therefore refuse 

300 i n i SSU e of Jan. 24, 1854. 


to 'repeal' an unconstitutional enactment, a mere quibble of course 
as to words. 

"Mr. Atchison, Hunter, Mason, Douglas, Bright, Brecken- 
ridge, Phillips, and perhaps some others, accordingly repaired 
yesterday afternoon to the White House to see the President, 
and tell him the result of their deliberations. The President, 
however, having probably heard of his supreme court amendment, 
told the gentlemen that he had 'religious scruples about discussing 
the subject on Sunday.' The gentlemen did not appreciate the 
difference between the propriety of the President directing them 
to discuss the matter, Sunday though it was, and his joining in 
the discussion himself, then stated through Mr. Atchison, that if 
the President declined to discuss the proposition, they would take 
it for granted that he favored it and would regard the amend- 
ment abrogating the Missouri Compromise as an Administration 
measure. Upon this the President spoke and after sundry gyra- 
tions, agreed that the bill should be reported, and said the Ad- 
ministration would then take ground. The gentlemen left with 
the understanding that the Administration would take ground in 
its favor." 

On the second of April the Correspondent of 
the Missouri Republican wrote: 301 

". . . . The assent and support of Gen. Pierce had been 
obtained before the bill was introduced and when it was after- 
wards thought necessary to change its phraseology, Pierce was 
again consulted and drew the amendment by which the Missouri 
act was to be 'superseded.' It was thought advisable by Douglas 
and Atchison to induce the President to commit himself in this 
manner in order to avoid risk of his withdrawing his countenance 
after the battle should be joined. They therefore insisted upon 
this course, and Pierce with great good nature complied. With 
the famous clause repealing the Missouri Compromise in his own 

301 In issue of April 10, 1854. See also the Boston Atlas editorial, 
May 16, 1854; letter of Salmon P. Chase to E. S. Hamlin, Jan. 23, 1854, 
in "Chase Correspondence," in Am. Hist. Assn. Report, 1902, ii, 256; Wil- 
son's Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, ii, 382-383 ; New York Evening 
Post, Oct. 20, 1855, quoted in Kan. Hist. Soc. Trans., ix, 120 n. 


hand-writing Gen. Pierce cannot recant his promise nor refuse the 
assistance of his Democratic bodyguard in the House to support 
and carry it where that sort of strength was most required and 
where he alone could command it." 

Outside the Senate Chamber Senator Atchison 
was evidently playing an active and important part 
in bringing about the Repeal ; and this illustrates the 
importance of looking beyond the pages of the Con- 
gressional Globe to discover the real history of the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise. From the 
Globe it might be inferred that Senator Atchison had 
little to do with the Repeal, since he took almost no 
part in the debate upon the Kansas-Nebraska bill. 
The Globe indicates that he made only two very brief 
speeches 302 and that these speeches were not directed 
to the principal topic of debate but to the Clayton 
amendment whereby aliens were to be excluded from 
political privileges in the new Territories. 303 His 

302 March 2, and May 24; Cong. Globe, xxix, 301; ibid., xxviii, 
Pt. ii, 1303. 

303 The correspondent of the Missouri Republican writing March 6, 
1854, in issue of March 14, stated that Atchison had inspired the Clayton 
amendment, and then went on to say: "Atchison's object was this: Benton 
will be compelled to vote for the bill as an alternative to political martyr- 
dom. Benton's chief strength is with the German Democrats of St. Louis 
and vicinity. Mr. Atchison not only does not like these Red Republicans, but 
cordially hates them and the sentiment on their part is cordially reciprocated. 
He is willing therefore to give them a proof of his affection under the fifth 
rib; but would not go out of his way to do it but that he thinks that through 
their ribs he can reach the vitals of Old Bullion. Now by the amendment 
adopted the newly arrived brethren of these Germans will be kept out of 
Nebraska or they will be excluded from interfering with the native citizens 
on the slavery question. Benton must take or reject the bill with this 
feature. If he adopts it, the Germans cut him; if he votes against the 
bill, Missouri repudiates him. Upon the whole it would seem that Atch- 
ison has got him." 

Atchison voted for this amendment but did not instigate Clayton to 


silence however is not at all inconsistent with the idea 
that he exerted a powerful influence in shaping this 
piece of legislation. 304 It may in part be explained 
by the fact that as President pro tempore of the Senate 
after the death of Vice-President King, Mr. Atchison 
as presiding officer could hardly be expected to, and 
as a matter of fact did not, participate in debate as 

introduce it. When the bill came back to the Senate for concurrence in the 
House amendments, among which was the omission of the Clayton amend- 
ment, Senator Atchison explained briefly why he was willing to concur: 

"There is no constitutional question in my opinion involved either by 
voting for or against this amendment. It is a mere question of policy; 
and that question of policy I am willing to yield for the sake of a higher 
principle contained in this bill. Sir, I would 'vote for this bill, although 
there might be not only one but one thousand obnoxious principles con- 
tained in it. I would vote for it because it blots out that infamous, yes, sir, 
I think it is a proper term to be used; that infamous restriction passed 
by the Congress of 1820, commonly called the Missouri Compromise, passed 
when the State which I now have in part the honor to represent, asked 

admission into the Union of these States Yes, sir, if this bill 

contained one thousand obnoxious principles, with the repeal of that in- 
famous 'compromise,' as it is called, I should vote for it. When this is 
done, we shall have achieved what, after thirty years of struggle, has 
only been consummated at this session. 

"As I said before, I believe that, as a matter of policy, none but 
American citizens, native-born, or naturalized, should be entitled to vote 
or to hold office in this country; but still I am willing to yield this; 
and as a Southern man, as representing a State more deeply interested in 
the passage of this bill, perhaps, than any other State in the Union, I say 
that, practically, it will have no effect upon the institutions of these 

territories " — Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. ii, 1303. The italics are 


304 In the recent debates upon the railway rate bill, Senator Aldrich 
of Rhode Island took no conspicuous part; but no one will venture to say 
that he did not exert a very important influence in shaping that piece of 

Vice-President King died April 18, 1853, before he had taken the 
oath of office; Senator Atchison was thereupon elected President pro 
tempore at the opening of the 33d Congress. Pearce of Maryland and 
Atchison were the only Senators in this Congress who had been in the 
Senate for ten consecutive years. — National Intelligencer, Dec. 24, 1853. 


actively as many other Senators. Furthermore it is 
not always the talkers, the debaters of the House or 
Senate who are the most influential members of Con- 
gress. Atchison and Benton, for example, were rep- 
resentatives of two types of men to be found in 
every deliberative body. The former preferred 
the less conspicuous but not less potent and more 
difficult role of influencing legislation through per- 
sonal appeals. Benton chose the more conspicuous 
stage of the speech-maker. As Senator Atchison, 
with Benton in mind, truly said: "stormy speeches 
and bills full of attractive promises the people can 
be made to know all about; but the unknown labor 
in committee and in Congress necessary to command 
success by making measures understood, the people 
.... cannot be made fully to appreciate." 

On the sixth of February, the bill then being 
under consideration in the Senate, Mr. Douglas 
moved to amend the substitute bill reported on the 
twenty-third of January, by striking out from Sec- 
tion 14 the words, "which was superseded by," and 
inserting in their place the words, "which is incon- 
sistent with." The clause will then provide, said 
Mr. Douglas, 

"that the Constitution and laws not locally inapplicable shall 
have the same force in the Territory as elsewhere, except the 
eighth section of the Missouri act, 'which is inconsistent with the 
principles of the legislation of 1850, commonly called the compro- 
mise measures, and is hereby declared inoperative.' This is the 
express idea conveyed in the original words, but I prefer to make 
it plainer." 30S 


Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 343. 


Considerable discussion followed as to the rel- 
ative merits of the two phrases, "superseded by" and 
"inconsistent with," in which Senators Cass and 
Stuart of Michigan, Badger of North Carolina, and 
Walker of Wisconsin, participated. 306 The matter 
then went over until the next morning. In the mean- 
time Senator Douglas had an opportunity to take 
counsel with the friends of the bill, and when the 
Senate reconvened the next day Mr. Douglas had 
perfected his amendment. He rose and stated that 
he had drawn an amendment which he believed 
would meet the approbation of the friends of the bill. 
He therefore moved to amend the fourteenth section 
by striking out the words, 

". . . . which [the Missouri Compromise act] was 
superseded by the principles of the legislation of 1850, commonly 
called the compromise measures, and is hereby declared inop- 

and inserting the words, 

"which, being inconsistent with the principle of non-inter- 
vention by Congress with slavery in the States and Territories, as 
recognized by the legislation of 1850, commonly called the com- 
promise measures, is hereby declared inoperative and void, it being 
the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery 
into any territory or state, nor to exclude it therefrom; but to 
leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their 
domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Con- 
stitution of the United States." 

"I move that amendment with the general con- 
currence of the friends of the measure" said Mr. 
Douglas: "it will apply to both Territories." The 

306 Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 353 ff. 


amendment was adopted on the fifteenth of Febru- 
ary. 307 

With this vote it was in fact determined 308 that 
the Missouri Compromise should be repealed as Sen- 
ator Atchison had suggested. But so far as the offi- 
cial record shows, Stephen A. Douglas and not Mr. 
Atchison was the author of the Repeal. 

307 Feb. 7, 1854; Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 353. The italics are mine. 
Of the thirty-five Senators who voted for the amendment, twenty-three 

were Democrats and twelve were Whigs; twelve were Northern or Free 
State Democrats, and one a Free State Whig. Of the ten who voted 
against the amendment, all but one, Houston of Texas, were from Free 
States; five were Whigs, three were Democrats, and two, Freesoilers. 
Ibid., 421. Senate Journal, 1st Sess., 33d Cong., 188. 

308 Although the bill underwent amendment in other respects during 
the long debates in the Senate and the House, this important section re- 
mained unaltered. 


The Congressional Aspects of the Missouri Contest (continued) 
-How the Kansas-Nebraska Bill with the Repeal Affected 
Colonel Benton-Senator Atchison's Letter Reviewing the Cam- 
paign-Colonel John A. Parker's "Secret History of the Kansas- 
Nebraska Bill" -Testimony of Francis P. Blair, Jr.-Senator 
Atchison, the Real Author of the Repeal. 

It is not difficult now to perceive the intimate 
relation which the amended Dodge bill of January 4 
sustained to the desires of Senator Atchison and to the 
Missouri senatorial contest. The Correspondent of 
the New York Journal of Commerce wrote the next 
day: 309 

"The Nebraska bill reported by Senator Douglas is destined 
to create renewed excitement as to the slavery question, but its 
provisions have been well considered, and I am glad to say, meet 
with general approbation. // is said that Mr. Atchison and Mr. 
Everett will support the bill, and the friends of the Compromise 
of 1850 are called upon to maintain it and thus carry out the 
principles of that pacification The Administration ap- 
proves of the measure, but was not consulted in regard to it be- 
fore the Senate Committee on Territories had agreed upon it. 
.... If this bill should pass it will settle the question as to the 
future Territories." 

The Correspondent of the Baltimore Sun, writ- 
ing on the same day, said: 310 

309 Writing Jan. 5, in issue of Jan. 6, 1854. The italics are mine. 
See also Washington correspondent of the New York Herald, in issue of 
Jan. 2, 1854. 

310 In issue of Jan. 6, 1854. The italics are mine. 


"Senator Douglas is entitled to the thanks of the country for 
the discreet manner in which he has solved the embarrassing 
questions attending the organization of the Territory of Nebraska. 
If my information is correct the bill is assented to by Mr. Atchison 
who was pledged before the people of Missouri to resign his seat 
rather than agree to the establishment of the Territory with the 
slavery restriction. Ion." 

Clear as it seems in the minds of these Corres- 
pondents that the bill of January 4 had a bearing 
upon the Missouri political situation and the wishes 
of Senator Atchison, that fact appears still more con- 
clusively in the important communication of the Cor- 
respondent of the Missouri Republican written two 
days after the report: 311 

"The Nebraska bill from the Senate committee continues to 
excite a profound sensation. It repeals the Missouri Compromise 
as to the prohibition of slavery north of latitude 36 30' by 
applying one of the clauses of the Compromise acts of 1850. This 
will occasion a furious debate and .... will perhaps render 
the session of 1853-54 as celebrated in the history of the dissension 
upon slavery as that which was distinguished by the pacification 

of 1850 The bill will of course pass the Senate. In the 

House it will encounter a very formidable opposition. However, 
on surveying the condition of things, seeing that the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise, placed by its advocates upon the adherence 
to that of 1850, and that the Administration is so rigidly pledged 
to resist all projects of the freesoilers or those who sympathize 
with freesoilism in even the most remote degree, I cannot doubt 
that this bill will pass. It is obviously the plan adopted by the 
Atchison party to this dispute, because Atchison and Douglas 
are inseparable friends, and because no definite action has yet 
been taken in Richardson's committee of the House on the subject. 
Richardson is a long tried and ardent personal friend of Douglas 
and perhaps hates Benton as either that Senator or Atchison. I 
infer from these relations between the parties that it has been 
311 Writing Jan. 6, in issue of Jan. 13, 1854. The italics are mine. 


arranged to let the whole matter be settled in the Senate and that 
Richardson will report no bill, or at least withhold any that may 
be formed until the fate of Douglas's bill should be virtually de- 
cided. It is well known to be the fact that the project of three 
Territories, instead of one, was suggested and discussed at Doug- 
las's house, and after a good deal of anxious consideration was 
given up because certain parties of influence could not be recon- 
ciled to the ejection of the southern Indians in the country west 
of Arkansas." 

How this "plan adopted by the Atchisonian 
party," and embodied in the bill and report of Jan- 
uary 4, bore upon the old fight over the senatorial 
succession in Missouri is easily explained. Benton 
had come to Washington at the opening of Congress 
the ardent champion before the people of western 
Missouri of a territorial government for Nebras- 
ka, assuming that slavery would be prohibited in 
the new Territory. If the Senate should pass the 
Nebraska territorial bill repealing the Compromise, 
the matter would at once come before the House of 
Representatives of which Colonel Benton was then 
a member, and he would be compelled to face a 
dilemma. If he supported the Nebraska bill with 
the repealing clause, he would go counter to his well- 
known freesoil opinions and sympathies; and in con- 
sequence he would lose the support of the rank and 
file of the slavery restrictionists in the ensuing August 
elections in Missouri. If, on the other hand, he 
should oppose the Nebraska bill with the repeal 
clause, he would go counter to his recent pledges to 
bring about the immediate establishment of a terri- 
torial government in Nebraska, and consequently 
would be certain to lose the support of the populous 


pro-slavery counties in the western part of the State 
which were most deeply interested in Nebraska Ter- 
ritory. Either course involved the loss of an im- 
portant political following in his fight for restoration 
to the Senate. This is brought out in what the Cor- 
respondent of the Missouri Republican wrote on the 
tenth of January: 312 

"Benton's position .... will be full of difficulty. He has 
said so much in favor of the immediate settlement of that region 
that he can hardly justify himself before any Missouri constit- 
uency, if he opposes the bill, and yet it repeals the Missouri Com- 
promise, the original Wilmot Proviso. Douglas argues that the 
Compromise measures are a new constitution adopted by Congress 
for the people and therefore override all former compromises. 
How can Mr. Benton escape the dilemma in which Douglas's 
argument together with Douglas's bill places him? But most 
of his friends, including the freesoilers in the House and Senate 
who swear by his coat-tails expect that he will swallow the 
argument and bill at a dose. I fully believe that he will vote 
for it [a prediction which proved to be incorrect] and all the 
rest of the Missouri delegation." 

Viewed from the Atchison standpoint, there was 
grave danger that the mild, ambiguous phraseology 
of the fourth of January might fail to accomplish 
Atchison's purpose to place Colonel Benton upon the 
horns of such a dilemma as would be certain to kill 
him politically in Missouri. Senator Dixon and 
doubtless others felt that "the bill did not in terms 
repeal the restrictive prohibition in regard to slavery 
embodied in the Missouri Compromise." There was 
the possibility, in other words, that a politician so 
resourceful as Benton might support the bill and 
find a loophole by which to escape from the trap 

312 In issue of Jan. 18, 1854. 


set by his enemies. At least the Editor of the Mis- 
souri Republican appeared to hold this opinion; for 
later, this paper stated that "Benton has been playing 
a two-faced game at Washington. It is admitted at 
one time that he was in favor of Douglas's Nebraska 
bill. Hale so undersood him and Beecher lamented 
the weakening which induced him to take this 
course." 313 

The language of the repealing clause must there- 
fore be stiffened, stripped of any ambiguity, if it 
were to accomplish Senator Atchison's purpose. Ac- 
cordingly the substitute bill of the twenty-third de- 
clared in clear and explicit terms the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise. There was now no escape 
for Benton. 

" . . . . Seeing the Whig delegation from Missouri united 
in favor of the Nebraska bill and that the Democratic delegation 
will also vote for it, knowing that he has no longer any chance 
of a return to the Senate from Missouri he has determined upon 
playing for a higher stake. He will vote against the Nebraska bill, 
and speak against it, and for giving up all hope of the senatorial 
office in Missouri he expects to be rewarded with the freesoil and 

abolition nomination for President in 1856 The poison 

which Gardiner administered to himself only a few squares from 
the capitol where Benton is to make this speech and give his vote 
against the Nebraska bill, was no more suddenly fatal to his 
life and reputation, than will be this speech and vote of Benton 
upon his senatorial prospects in Missouri. All that his worst 
enemy could ask is that he may so speak and vote." 314 

"Vote against the Nebraska bill and speak 
against it" 315 Colonel Benton did, thus doing "all 

313 March 14, 1S54. 

3H Editorial in the Missouri Republican, March 14, 1854. 

31? April 25, 1854. Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. ii, 986; ibid., xxix, 557. 


that his worst enemy could ask." The day after his 
speech in the House against the bill, the Corres- 
pondent of the Missouri Republican wrote: 316 

". . . . Yesterday and today may be considered 'field days' 
in the great war which has broken out between the Administra- 
tion and Col. Benton. Old Benton opened yesterday from all 
his batteries using red-hot balls as well as bombs, grape and can- 
ister. His guns were as large as that which burst on the Prince- 
ton. Today the government organ, the Union, replied from 
Paixhans of the largest class, loaded to the muzzle. The air was 
filled with the noise and smoke of the infuriated combatants. 
.... It would have done you good to have seen the happy 
faces of John P. Hale, and old man Giddings, Mr. Chase, Sum- 
ner, Truman Smith, Washburn of Maine, and troops of that 
class of men literally surrounding him and cheering him on, 

laughing when he smiled, scowling when he frowned 

All eyes are turned upon the State of Missouri. Will the Dem- 
ocrats of that State or any considerable number of them desert 
the Democratic party and the Administration by following Benton 
in this wild freak? is the universal inquiry. The general opinion 
here is that they will not, but that Col. Benton will withdraw 
from the contest for the senatorship and rely upon the power of 
the abolitionists and freesoilers at St. Louis to reelect him to the 
House. The Administration believes that his conduct will be 
repudiated by its friends in St. Louis, as well as by those of the 
State now that he has thrown off the mask and openly assumed 
his position with the freesoilers." 

Colonel Benton, however, did not retire from 
the senatorial contest. But the result of the August 
legislative elections was such that when the Legis- 
lature convened in joint session for the election of a 
successor to Senator Atchison forty-one unsuccessful 
ballots were taken; and the Legislature finally ad- 
journed without having elected any one. During the 

316 Writing April 26, in issue of May 4, 1854. The italics are mine. 


greater part of the balloting Colonel Benton stood 
lowest of the three leading candidates. 317 This was 
his last great political battle. His contest for the 
Governorship in 1856 was a forlorn hope, and shortly- 
after this contest he died. 318 

If further evidence were needed to establish the 
conclusion that the repeal of the Missouri Compro- 
mise in connection with the Kansas-Nebraska bill 
was the culmination of the bitter struggle between 
Colonel Benton and Senator Atchison it may be 
found in a long letter written by Mr. Atchison almost 
immediately after the passage of the Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill. 319 The letter was addressed to the peo- 

317 During the greater part of the balloting Atchison received 56, 
Doniphan (Whig) 59, and Benton 40. — Switzler's Missouri, 277. 

318 The XlXth General Assembly met on the twenty-ninth of Decem- 
ber, 1856, and on the twelfth of January, 1857, elected James S. Green of 
St. Louis for the short term to succeed Atchison; and Trusten Polk, the 
Governor-elect, was chosen Senator for the long term ending March 4, 
1863. — Switzler's Missouri, 283. 

319 Dated, Washington, June 5, 1854; printed in the Missouri Repub- 
lican, June 21, 1854. Portions of this letter which bear directly upon the 
Nebraska question and the Repeal will be found in Appendix C, with the 
omission of those parts dealing with the Pacific railroad issue. 

A few days after the Kansas-Nebraska bill had passed Congress, the 
partisans of Atchison residing in his home county gave public expression 
to their "unmingled pleasure" at the result. The following resolutions 
were "enthusiastically adopted by the meeting" of the people of Platte 
County "irrespective of party" held at Weston on the ninth of June, 1854: 

"Resolved, That we hail with unmingled pleasure the passing of the 
Nebraska-Kansas bill and exult in the fact that an odious restriction has 
been removed from these Territories, and that each and every citizen is 
entitled to the same rights of person and property in said Territories that 
they would be entitled to in any of the States of the United States. 

"Resolved, That our thanks are due to all those who so nobly sup- 
ported the bill; but our especial thanks are due to our fellow-citizen, 
Hon. David R. Atchison for his energy and untiring zeal in the establish- 
ment of the principle that man is capable of self-government, and that 


pie of Missouri and was designed for publication as 
a campaign document. It reviews at great length 
the subjects of the establishment of a territorial gov- 
ernment west of Missouri and of the railroad to the 
Pacific. Concerning these topics Atchison reviews at 
length his own and Colonel Benton's views, utterances 
and public acts. The letter not only reveals the esti- 
mate placed upon Benton's public acts by a large 
portion of the people of Missouri and the majority 
of the members of Congress, but also something of 
the man Atchison. 

In this letter Senator Atchison says distinctly that 
the Kansas-Nebraska bill was u a western measure 
.... designed to add to the power and wealth of 
the West." The issue which Colonel Benton had 
raised in Missouri over Nebraska, namely, that "the 
law of organization should be so framed, and ought 
to be so framed, that all of his slaveholding constit- 
uents would be excluded from the Territories," and 
that Congress had the constitutional power to enact 
a law so framed and "ought to exercise it," Atchison 
accepted: "I accepted that issue," he writes, "and 
so did the Democrats of Missouri. The battle has 
been fought in Congress over the Douglas bill and 

while we recognize him as a master spirit from our own State in pro- 
curing the passage of the Nebraska-Kansas bill, we freely award to Sen- 
ator Geyer, and Messrs. Lamb, Phelps, Mills, Caruthers, Oliver and 
Lindley the meed of praise for their firmness in maintaining the true prin- 
ciple of self-government. 

"Resolved, That we reprobate the conduct of the only one of our 
Representatives [Benton] who was willing to sacrifice not only the interests 
of Missouri but also all his earlier principles for the sake of obtaining the 
favor of those freesoil abolition fanatics who have distracted Congress 
for the past thirty years." — Missouri Republican, June 22, 1854. 


the Democracy has won a proud victory 

The lines were thus drawn on the national theater as 
they had previously been drawn by Benton in our 
State My position on this subject was well- 
known in Washington, and the issue that Benton made 
upon it, I never shrank from." Referring to his 
pledges at Weston, Parkville, and other places to 
work for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, 
Senator Atchison went on to say: "I trust, Fellow- 
citizens, that I have redeemed this pledge to the let- 
er." And, finally, he emphasized the harmony exist- 
ing between the resolution of the Missouri Legisla- 
ture, in 1845, approving the principle of popular 
sovereignty for the settlement of the question of 
slavery in the Territories; his own preferences on 
the subject as expressed publicly by him dur- 
ing the campaign of 1853; and the method pre- 
scribed for the settlement of the slavery question 
by the Kansas-Nebraska bill. "Thus did Missouri 
announce the same great doctrines for which I 
contended and on which the Douglas bill was framed 
and against which Benton joined issue with me, with 
the Legislature, and with the Democracy of Mis- 
souri, with Congress and with the Administration." 
The attempted solution of the problem respect- 
ing the origin of the repeal of the Missouri Compro- 
mise might be left at this point with the plain in- 
ference that the Repeal arose from conditions pecul- 
iar to the West, were it not for the fact that the ques- 
tion of secondary importance mentioned in the intro- 
ductory pages remains undisposed of. To be sure, 
the evidence points strongly to David R. Atchison 


as the real originator of the Repeal rather than to- 
Stephen A. Douglas. But upon this question, the 
evidence has been almost wholly circumstantial or 
inferential. None has been presented which explic- 
itly asserts that Senator Atchison was the real author 
of the Repeal. Such a claim is not made even in 
the letter which has just been summarized. Further- 
more, Mr. Atchison's subsequent claims to author- 
ship, have, as has been stated, been seriously im- 
peached by historians and apparently denied by 
Senator Douglas. It remains to be seen if there is 
any other direct evidence tending to support Atchi- 
son's claims. 

Only one statement, it would seem, has been pub- 
lished with the direct and sole purpose of assigning 
to a single individual other than Mr. Douglas the 
credit or discredit of having originated the Repeal. 
In the year 1880 an article appeared in the National 
Quarterly Review for July with the caption, "What 
Led to the War, or the Secret History of the Kansas- 
Nebraska Bill." Later, the article appeared in 
pamphlet form. The author was Colonel John A. 
Parker of Virginia, a person of high social and polit- 
ical standing, who, during the pendency of the bill 
in Congress, occupied a position giving him peculiar 
opportunities to know the inside history of the Kan- 
sas-Nebraska bill. 32 ° It is the emphatic testimony 
of Colonel Parker that "the primary object .... 
which induced the initiation of the measure to repeal 
the Missouri Compromise was to secure the reelec- 

320 This pamphlet and the credibility of its author are fully dis- 
cussed in Appendix D. 


tion of Mr. Atchison to the Senate. The means to 
be employed was the repeal of the Missouri Compro- 
mise in order that the people of Missouri might carry 
their slaves to Kansas and there raise hemp. The 
author of the Kansas-Nebraska bill was not Mr. 

Douglas but Mr. Atchison The originators of 

the plan fixed upon were Mr. Atchison and three oth- 
er able and distinguished Southern Senators, men of 
great influence in the whole country, and especially 
influential in the South." 

Nowhere is it stated in Colonel Parker's article 
who the "three other able and distinguished South- 
ern Senators" were, who cooperated with Mr. Atchi- 
son in the Repeal. The mystery was cleared up, 
however, by the discovery of portions of a speech 
and a letter of Hon. Francis P. Blair, Jr., of Mis- 
souri. The speech was delivered in Missouri in 1854 
a short time after the enactment of the Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill. 321 The following passage not only cor- 
roborates Colonel Parker's statement but actually 
names the three coworkers with Atchison. 

"Mr. Douglas has the credit of having originated this scheme 
of breaking compacts, fraught with such fatal tendencies. He 
does not deserve this precedence. It will be remembered that 
at the last session of Congress, Mr. Atchison broached the idea 
of dissolving the Missouri Compromise, in connection with the 
then pending Nebraska bill. Mr. Calhoun's Southern unit con- 
trived to get Mr. Atchison made President pro tern, of the Senate. 
From that hour he became the tool of the Nullifiers, and when 
Mr. Calhoun died, he left his swaggering and sometimes stagger- 
ing President pro tern, to the care of Messrs. Mason, Hunter and 

321 I have been unable to ascertain the exact time and place of the 
delivery of this speech. It is given in Rev. Pol. Action, 105 ff. 


Butler, who were his factotums at the close of his life, and may 
be considered the executors of his estate of Nullification. 

"The first, (Mr. Mason of Virginia) you all remember, was 
called upon by Mr. Calhoun to be his mouthpiece, and read the 
last drivellings of his doctrines of disunion, while he sat by, the 
glare of phrensy in his eyes, unable to stand or speak, evincing 'the 
ruling passion strong in death' which was to ruin what he was not 
permitted to control. He was the fanatic and martyr of ambition. 
Peace to his spirit ! May it have better repose than he has left to 
his country! The next man in the trio in the confidence of Mr. 
Calhoun was Mr. Hunter of Virginia. He was withdrawn from 
his party, like Mr. Atchison, by the tactics of Mr. Calhoun, who 
had him elected to the Speakership of the House of Representa- 
tives, soon after entering it, by a coalition of the Whigs and 
Nullifiers, Mr. Calhoun putting him forward in preference to his 
devoted friends, Dixon H. Lewis and Mr. Pickens of South 
Carolina, either of whom was more acceptable to the Democracy 
of the House; but Mr. Calhoun gloried in putting down the will 
of the majority of the Democracy in the person of Mr. Hunter, 
and it is but justice to the latter to say that he followed his patron, 
rather than his party, during his life, and that his spirit of hos- 
tility to the compacts which bind the Union together survives in 
him. 322 The third man of the junto to whom Mr. Atchison 
was committed is Mr. Butler, of South Carolina, Mr. Calhoun's 
successor, who bears in his look the fiery temper of the furious 
Nullifier, but has certainly, with more heat, less of the dangerous 
factious feeling which lies at the bottom of the designs of his 
colder, calculating companions. 

"Mr. Atchison has ever since, and I believe before the death 
of Mr. Calhoun, been decidedly domiciled with these men; they 
have one household, 323 I am told, and make a little knot and 

322 immediately upon reading this reference to Senator Hunter, I 
wrote to his daughter, Miss Martha T. Hunter, inquiring if there were 
any papers or correspondence of Senator Hunter bearing upon his connection 
with the Repeal; but no further evidence was obtained. 

323 An examination of the Congressional Directory discloses the fact 
that as early as the first session of the 30th Congress, Senators Butler, 


lump of leaven, that works up the whole batch that belongs to 
the Southern institution, when occasion requires. This is the 
brotherhood which brought the Southern delegation to unite in 
a mass, many most unwillingly, to give adhesion to the plot to 
make the united vote of the South the reward for that treachery 
among the Northern aspirants which would sacrifice the solemn 
compact that had guaranteed the peace of the country in fixing 
the limit of that threatening subject of discord, which could only 
be safe itself, or exist with safety to the country, by having agreed 
boundaries and conditions assigned in compromises, in concessions 
on the part of both sections of the nation it provoked to strife. 
.... This dangerous measure has from first to last been man- 
aged by the nullifiers, with all the adroitness taught in the school 
of their Machiavel. The bill originating with Atchison and the 
club of Nullifiers who chamber with him, has been at every stage 
in the hands of the Southern Senators, by means of a caucus or 
nightly convention held by them with Northern Doughfaces 
brought over by the lust of plunder and the temptation of getting 
the vote of the South as a unit in the next Presidential con- 
vention." 324 

Mason and Hunter occupied quarters at the same house in Washington. 
They continued to be domiciled together until after the Repeal in 1854, 
and while that measure was before Congress, Senator Atchison was dom- 
iciled with them. 

324 In a letter to the Missouri Democrat, dated March 1, 1856, Mr. 
Blair again alludes to the origin of the Repeal: "It is true beyond all 
doubt or denial, that the very men to whose influence and exertions the 
passage of the Nebraska bill is due, have already practically repudiated it 

and trampled it under foot Mr. Atchison <iv/io really originated the 

laiv, has several times invaded the Territory in person, and by brutal 
violence trampled upon the law and robbed the actual settlers of their 
rights under it. His accomplices in the scheme to pass the bill have been 
his accomplices in its violation, for they have become his apologists from 

one end of the country to the other It is well-known that the 

flagitious act by which the Compromise was repealed was dictated by a 
squad of Nullifiers {Atchison, Mason, Hunter & Co.) to the Doughface 
Presidential aspirants from the North; that when Atchison, as he himself 
boasted, gave 'Douglas twenty-four hours to bring in the bill,' and the 
other Doughfaces had been won to the scheme by similar persuasives 
operating upon their anxiety for Presidential honors, of which being un- 


"Gentlemen, you make a d — d fuss about Doug- 
las, but Douglas don't deserve the credit of this Ne- 
braska bill. I told Douglas to introduce it. I 
originated it. I got Pierce committed to it, and all 
the glory belongs to meT 325 No longer can this be 
dismissed as the empty boast, the loquacious froth, 
of a man in liquor. The testimony of Colonel Park- 
er and Mr. Blair taken with all the preceding evi- 
dence would seem to settle definitively the question as 
to the real authorship of the Repeal. 

The preceding pages have been written in vain 
if they do not justify the conclusion that the repeal of 
the Missouri Compromise in 1854 had its real origin 
in western conditions and particularly in the peculiar 
political conditions existing in the State of Missouri; 
and that the real originator of the Repeal was David 
R. Atchison. 

Apart from its interest as an episode of import- 
ance in the slavery controversy, the story of the gen- 
esis of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise has a 
much wider significance. The narrative of the way in 
which the struggle between two Missouri politicians 

worthy, they could only hope to gain by truckling and subserviency, the 
adhesion of these men, thus gained, was based upon the Southern members 
of Congress, to obtain their assent to the overthrow of the Compromise. 
It is believed that a majority of the Southern men were opposed to the 
measure, and were coerced into it by the fear that they would not be sus- 
tained if they refused an advantage offered to them by the North. Thus 
the treachery of Northern men to their own constituents was made to work 
upon the honorable scruples of the Southern men, in order to accomplish 
an act which no respectable portion of any section desired should be done." 
Rev. Pol. Action, 76. 

325 Quoted from the account of Atchison's speech at Atchison, Kansas 
Territory, Sept. 20, 1854, as given in the New York Tribune, June 4, 
1855; see Appendix E. 



for the senatorial succession was transferred to the 
Congressional arena and there became transformed 
from a local question into one of the gravest national 
importance, is a signal instance of what has happened 
in the history of American politics more often per- 
haps than is generally realized. It establishes the 
essential importance of a careful study of State poli- 
tics in order to arrive at a satisfactory solution of not 
a few problems in national politics. It is a concrete 
illustration of the "significance of the frontier" in 
American political history. 




A New Explanation of Senator Douglas's Motives 

Messrs. J. Amos Barrett and A. E. Sheldon of 
the Nebraska Historical Society are the authors of 
perhaps the most recent and novel explanation of 
Senator Douglas's purposes and motives in champion- 
ing the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. On 
account of its plausibility, this explanation deserves 
some consideration here. 326 

It is now claimed that the defeat of the bill for 
the organization of Nebraska Territory in March, 
1853, in the closing days of the 32d Congress, 
was due to the rivalry between Chicago and St. 
Louis, on the one hand, and New Orleans and Texas, 
on the other, over the route for the proposed railroad 
to the Pacific coast. Referring to the Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill in the 33d Congress, these writers inquire, 

"What was Douglas's motive in proposing .... to make 
Nebraska a cock-pit where slavery and freedom should fight it out? 
.... For ten years [?] he had been trying to open up this 
country lying straight in the path of commerce and emigration 
from his own State; for five years he had seen Pacific railroad 
projects blocked by commercial rivals, south and east. He had 
seen those interests strong enough to kill his bill the spring before 
even when strongly supported by the slave State of Missouri. He 
knew that a hasty treaty with Mexico was being pushed to pre- 
pare the way for a Pacific railroad that would build up the rivals 

326 This appeared in the Omaha (Nebr.) Bee, June 5, 1904. 


of both Chicago and St. Louis. No one knew better than he that 
commerce and migration to the Pacific would follow the route of 
the first railroad. No one was closer than he to the railroad and 
commercial interests of Illinois. He had secured the first United 
States railroad land grant for the Illinois Central. The Rock 
Island, first of all Illinois roads, had just reached the Mississippi. 
Railroads would soon be built across Iowa. The natural route to 
the Pacific was across Nebraska prairies. If opened to white set- 
tlement it was certain the rush of population would carry the 
road on its shoulders and with it the trade not only of the west, 
but of the world to Chicago. The price to pay was to satisfy 
the slave sentimentalists of the south, to offer them, prima facie, 
an equal opportunity with the north in settling the new territory, 
knowing as Douglas knew that the superior energy and push of 
the free state migration would win in Nebraska as it already 
had in Oregon and California. Such an offer would cut the 
ground from beneath the feet of the New Orleans-Texas-Missis- 
sippi opponents of the bill. They could no longer unite the south 
against the measure on the score of pretended sympathy for the 
Indian." 327 

In support of this claim the refusal of the Sen- 
ate on March 3, 1853, to take up the consideration of 
the bill by a vote of 23 to 17, is cited. 

"It is this vote analysed which proves the real nature of 
the opposition to the Nebraska bill — the combination of commer- 
cial rivals with slave jealousy which is determined to prevent a 
Pacific railroad up the Platte valley. Eighteen out of the twenty- 
three votes to lay on the table make the solid south — both whig 
and democrat — against Douglas's bill; the other five are from the 
commercial States of the northeast. Every one of the seventeen 
votes for the bill is from the north and northwest except the two 

votes from Missouri This is a fight between Chicago 

and St. Louis on the one hand, looking forward to the opening of 
the Platte valley Pacific railroad; New Orleans and Texas, on the 
other, trying to block the northern route until they can push one 

327 No indication is given of the evidence or the authorities upon 
which this interpretation is based. 


through on southern parallels; and New York City helping the 
southerners in order to maintain her own hold on the California 
trade by sea and the isthmus of Panama Before another Ne- 
braska bill could be debated in Congress the southern interest had 
rushed the Gadsden treaty from Mexico to Washington, paying 
$10,000,000 for a strip of desert in Arizona and New Mexico, 
whose only use was to open a better route for a southern Pacific 

In the foregoing analysis of the vote in the Sen- 
ate, no account is taken of the fact that twenty-two 
Senators did not vote — a number sufficient to se- 
riously weaken the conclusion just quoted. Further- 
more, Messrs. Barrett and Sheldon fail to take into 
account the vote in the House which fails to support 
their main contention. The only ostensible objec- 
tions to the bill were based upon considerations grow- 
ing out of treaty rights of Indians in the proposed 

This bill passed the House by a vote of ninety- 
eight to forty-three. An analysis of this vote dis- 
closes the fact that eighty-eight members, almost 
forty per cent, were absent or did not vote: of these, 
forty-two were from slave, and forty-six from free, 
States. Of the ninety-eight votes cast in favor of the 
bill, eighty came from free States, and eighteen, or 
almost one-fifth, came from slave States. Of 
those who voted against the bill, thirty, or 
two-thirds, came from slave, and thirteen from 
free, States. This analysis affords no evidence 
that the vote of the House was determined 
by considerations based upon any probable ef- 
fect which the organization of Nebraska Territory 
might have in determining the location of the route 



of the proposed Pacific railroad. Indeed, the analy- 
sis furnishes evidence against this conclusion: 
Louisiana, one of the two States most directly in- 
terested in the extreme southerly route, contributed 
two of the votes for the bill, and none against it] 
Texas, the other State most interested in this route, 
cast but one vote against the bill; two representatives 
from Louisiana, and one from Texas, did not 
vote. Only half of the New York delegation 
voted at all, and instead of going solidly against the 
bill, along with the friends of the southerly route, 
two-thirds of them voted for the bill. The following 
table shows the distribution of votes in the House: 328 

Yeas Nays Not voting 






Arkansas . . 
California . 







Delaware . 
























Kentucky . 




Louisiana . 








Maryland . 








Michigan . 




Mississippi . 








New Hampshire 




New Jersey 




328 House Journal, 2d Sess., 33d Cong., 272-273. 



New York . 




North Carolina 





• 17 




. 16 



Rhode Island 




South Carolina 




Tennessee . 
















Wisconsin . 




Totals . . 98 43 88 

There is but one remark in the debate in the 
House over the Nebraska bill in 1853 which tends to 
sustain the theory of Messrs. Barrett and Sheldon. 
Mr. Hall of Missouri said: 

"I trust, at any rate, that the gentleman's [Howard of Texas] 
influence may be as potential in Texas in urging a law to secure 
to the Indians their rights, as I fear it has been in this House to 
array an interest against the organization of Nebraska Territory, 
and the protection of our people who go to Oregon and California 
every year. 

"But I wish to suggest to the gentleman from Texas whether 
he may not have been influenced to some degree, unconsciously, to 
oppose this bill from considerations of this kind? If the gentleman 
can convince this House and the country that the Territory of 
Nebraska shall not be organized, either at this session or any future 
session of Congress; if the people of Texas can prevail upon the 
Government of the United States to drive the Indians of Texas, 
the Comanches, and other wild tribes, into the Territory of Nebras- 
ka, it may have the effect of rendering your overland routes from 
Missouri and Iowa to Oregon and California so dangerous that 
the tide of emigration will have to pass through Texas — an object 
which Texas has most zealously sought to accomplish for many 
years past. 

"In addition to that, if in the course of time a great railroad 


should be found necessary from this part of the continent to the 
shores of the Pacific, and the doctrine prevail that all the territory 
west of Missouri is to be a wilderness from this day henceforth 
and forever, Texas being settled, the people of this country will 
have no alternative but to make the Pacific road terminate at 
Galveston or some other point in Texas " 329 

All in all, the foundation of this new explanation 
of Mr. Douglas's purposes, based, as it is, upon the 
analysis of the vote in the Senate, is too weak to sus- 
tain the superstructure erected upon it. Moreover, 
as relating more particularly to Senator Douglas's 
motives, it is difficult to accept this as the true ex- 
planation. The real or fancied interests of constit- 
uents have been, and probably always will be, one of 
the most potent factors in determining the public acts 
of American politicians. If Mr. Douglas himself 
had felt that the repeal of the Missouri Compromise 
and the organization of Nebraska Territory and the 
commercial interests of the people of Illinois were 
vitally related, he would have championed the 
Repeal regardless of any effect it might have 
upon his prospects as a national leader. That being 
true, it is highly probable that he would have publicly 
avowed that ground when hard pressed, as he after- 
wards was, to defend his course in connection with the 
Repeal. Nothing, however, has been discovered in 
Mr. Douglas's speeches before the people of Illinois 
in defense of his course which indicates that the pos- 
sible route of the Pacific railroad was a determining 

3-9 Cong. Globe, xxvi, 558. 


William C. Price 

The name of Judge William C. Price of Mis- 
souri has not, so far as the author has discovered, been 
associated by previous writers with the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise. That he played a part of 
considerable importance in creating a strong senti- 
ment in western Missouri favorable to an early repeal 
of the Compromise seems highly probable in view of 
the facts furnished me by Mr. William E. Connelley. 
This actor did not appear upon so conspicuous a stage 
nor did he have the same personal motives for desir- 
ing the Repeal that inspired Senator Atchison. 
Nevertheless he was mighty in the councils of his 
party and had much to do with preparing the way for 
the Repeal in connection with the Kansas-Nebraska 

There is a very brief biographical sketch of 
Judge Price in Mr. Connelley's The Provisional 
Government of Nebraska. From this sketch and 
from a typewritten statement specially prepared by 
Mr. Connelley for the author the facts here presented 
are drawn. 

Born in Tazewell County, Virginia, about 1812, 
William Cecil Price was a direct descendant of Lord 
Baltimore who settled Maryland, and a cousin of the 
Confederate General, Sterling Price, who was 


Governor of Missouri from 1853 to 1857. In 1828 
the parents of Price removed to Green County in the 
southwestern part of Missouri, and were among the 
first settlers in that section. 

Price proved to be an able lawyer. He rapidly 
became prominent in the politics of Missouri and 
continued to occupy a conspicuous place in the coun- 
sels of the Democratic party until the Civil War. In 
the decade just preceding the war Judge Price was 
a recognized leader of the extreme and radical ele- 
ment, the "fire-eaters," of the Southern Democracy, 
especially in the State of Missouri. Among the posi- 
tions of honor and trust to which he was elected were 
Judge of Probate, Circuit Judge, District Attorney, 
Representative in the State Legislature, and State 
Senator. He also filled the office of Treasurer of the 
United States under President Buchanan. 

Physically, Judge Price was a man fully six feet 
in height, spare, and of remarkably firm step and 
erect carriage until he had passed the age of sixty. 
He had black hair, only slightly streaked with gray 
at the age of seventy-five; clear eyes, "dark as steel, 
blue, as penetrating as daggers. His face was classic 
in outline and feature. He had the small foot and 
hand of the Southern gentleman. His presence 
was commanding, his manner imperious." 33 ° 

Intellectually, Price was a man of far more than 
average ability along some lines: in others his vision 
of events was narrow. "He was an ideal leader — a 
sanguine enthusiast. He had great command of lan- 

330 A wood-cut engraving of Judge Price is to be found in Connelley's 
Prov. Gov., 33. 


guage, and was a plausible speaker, but not logical. 
His force consisted in the earnestness of his advocacy 
and the tenacity with which he held to a cause after 
he deemed it to embody his duty." 

Judge Price was a man of great courage, moral 
and physical. 331 He was a man too of an intensely 
religious nature, and exceedingly familiar with the 
Scriptures. He was a Methodist, and after the divi- 
sion of the Church, he adhered to the "Church 
South." He was a thorough believer in the right- 
eousness of slavery, and even after the war, contended 
that slavery was a blessing to the negro. 

His devotion to the Southern cause bordered 
upon fanaticism. He believed with all his soul that 
the cause was right, and for a man of his temperament 
no sacrifice was too great to make in its interest. He 
was an ardent advocate of Secession, and when the 
time came, he joined the Confederate army. He was 
taken prisoner at Wilson's Creek, and confined in the 
military prison at Alton, 111. 332 

Judge Price has been dead for some years, dying 
in Chicago in extreme poverty. He has one son 
living, a lawyer, residing in Forsyth, Taney County, 
Missouri. 333 

331 Mr. Connelley says: "He was a dead shot with the old fashioned 
rifle. He was sometimes challenged to fight duels and always selected 
that weapon. His known ability to shoot well and the decadence of that 
arm and inability of others to use it, caused an accommodation of all the 
affairs. Upon receipt of a challenge he would say, 'rifles at sixty yards, 
and I am ready any minute.' " 

332 "He had a keen sense of humor. A friend once introduced him to 
a stranger, and remarked, 'Judge Price was in the United States Treasury 
under President Buchanan.' 'Yes,' said the Judge, 'and in the penitentiary 
under President Lincoln.' " — Connelley's Prov. Gov., 28 n. 

333 Benjamin F. Price, Mr. Connelley says, has no papers belonging 


The information which Mr. Connelley has been 
so kind as to furnish me was derived from a personal 
acquaintance with Judge Price and from personal in- 
terviews. Mr. Connelley resided in Springfield, 
Missouri, the home of Judge Price, from 1888 to 
1892, and was engaged in the business of loaning 
money for eastern people. Judge Price and Mr. 
Connelley became very intimate friends. Having 
been one of the first settlers in that part of Missouri, 
Judge Price was able to furnish Mr. Connelley with 
much valuable information "concerning land titles, 
kinship, heirs, what became of certain people, etc., 
etc.,^ for which the Judge always received a fee. He 
supposed himself to be still in the practice of his pro- 
fession, but only a few old people employed him. 
Much of his time was spent in the large and commo- 
dious office of Mr. Connelley. 334 

Judge Price had then outlived his generation, 
but continued to "live in the days of his power and 
talked of little else." Mr. Connelley apparently was 
the only man in that period of Judge Price's life who 
appreciated the information about Missouri politics 
which Judge Price could give, and Mr. Connelley 
entreated him to endeavor to reduce his statements 
to writing, but this seems to have been prevented by 
his physical infirmities. 335 

to his father which would throw more light upon his connection with the 

334 Mr. Connelley's first wife was a relative of Judge Price. 

335 "And his mind was just beginning to fail him," Mr. Connelley 
adds. "He was fanatical on religious subjects; this was the evidence I 
believed of the beginning of the weakening of his mental faculties. In 
1894 I saw him for the last time, and he was feeble in mind and body." 


Mr. Connelley also says that 

"Mordecai Oliver, once member of Congress from Mis- 
souri, and member of the Committee to investigate the troubles 
in Kansas, 336 was also a resident of Springfield at the time I 
lived there. Judge Price despised him, but I sometimes induced 
them to discuss old times in my presence, as I knew them both well 
and esteemed them both. Oliver was then Judge of the Criminal 
Court. He had been a Whig, but was for slavery. On the sub- 
ject of the Missouri Repeal they agreed as to facts, though Oliver 
at heart opposed the idea." 337 

The part which Judge Price played in the re- 
peal of the Missouri Compromise will now be given 
in Mr. Connelley's own words. 

"Judge Price always maintained that the idea of the Repeal 
originated with him. He claimed that he pressed this idea on the 
South, saying that Missouri could not remain slave with Iowa 
free on the north, Illinois free on the east, and a free State on 
the west. In short, Missouri had to accomplish that Repeal or 
become a free State. That was what Judge Price preached for 
twenty years before the war. And the South allowed Missouri to 
have her way 

"The Repeal was discussed in a gathering of extreme Demo- 
crats in New Orleans as early as 1850. Judge Price attended 
this gathering, as he has often told me. I have the names of others 
in attendance, but my papers are so much in disorder that I have 
been unable to find the memorandum. I remember that Jefferson 
Davis was at that meeting; Judge Price often related to me the 
feeling speech he made there. I remember that J. P. Benjamin 
and Toombs were there. And a Mr. Smith, 338 I think a minister 
of the Gospel, either then or afterwards a Member of Congress 

336 Mr. Oliver presented the Minority Report. — House Reports, ist 
Sess., 34th Congress, ii, no. 200, 68 ff (1856). 

337 Oliver was a member of the House when the Kansas-Nebraska 
bill was passed, and spoke and voted for the bill. — Cong. Globe, xxviii, 
Pt. ii, 1209 ; ibid., xxxi, 726. 

338 Probably Rev. William Smith, a Democratic Representative in the 
33d Congress, and a supporter of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. 


from Virginia, was there Without my papers I would 

not say that this meeting was in 1850, but I am sure it was as 
early as that 

"The idea, the intention, of the Repeal had been discussed 
secretly in every gathering of pro-slavery men in Missouri for ten 
years. Benton repudiated the idea in Springfield, Mo., in 1844, 
so Judge Price informed me. And from that day the radical 
slave faction of the Missouri Democracy fought him to the death. 
Judge Price and other radical Southern leaders saw at that time 
that a conflict was inevitable ; they were secessionists per se. Judge 
Price was the man selected to lead the fight in Missouri for the 
use of a part of the Indian country which was north of the old 
Compromise line for Slavery. In this capacity he made known 
to Benton the conclusion of the radical slave faction. Price and 
Benton had been warm friends to this time. They never spoke 
afterwards. Price registered a vow to drive Benton from public 

life and accomplished it In presence of a large company 

gathered in a store on St. Louis street, in Springfield, Mo., he 
vowed he would fight Benton to the death. To make it more 
open and public he wrote his determination on the walls of the 
store, where it remained until the building was torn down after 
the Civil War. So said Judge Price to me many times. 

"Judge Price was the head of the pro-slavery extremists of 
the South. He was in close and constant communication with 
Jefferson Davis, Robert Toombs, John C. Calhoun, John C. 
Breckenridge, Judah P. Benjamin, and other Southern leaders, 
for many years prior to the Civil War. These men looked to him 
to inaugurate and carry out the measures in Missouri supposed to 
be for the benefit of the aggressive policy of the extremists of the 
slave power. No better selection was ever made. He believed 
in the righteousness of slavery. And when enlisted in a cause he 
knew no such word as fail. He would not sacrifice the thousandth 
part of the most insignificant principle for any advantage which 
might be offered him. Compromise was repugnant to him. He 
would always drive straight ahead to the end in the way marked 
out, let the consequences be what they might. 

"The aggressive leaders of the slave power became dissatisfied 


with the course of Senator Benton of Missouri. They marked him 
for defeat. While Benton had spent the greater part of his active 
life in Washington and away from the people of Missouri, he 
was still, in 1844, supreme in Missouri. While it is true that a 
new generation had sprung up in Missouri who knew not Ben- 
ton, 339 it is also true that the older generation stood by Benton, 
and by their aid he dictated the political policy of the State. It 
was supposed to be political death for any man to even whisper 
a breath against 'Old Bullion,' the idol of Missouri 

"Judge Price was never a rash man. He had a cool head and 
a pulse even and regular under every trial. He knew what his 
declaration meant. Benton was a born leader, and in manner 
much like Judge Price. He was intolerant, often dictatorial and 
unjust. The declaration of hostilities by Price was accepted by 
Benton and the political battle royal of Missouri politics began, 
and the first in the fight for the Repeal, though the issue was 
veiled. Neither side urged the real issue between them. Price 
hoped that with the defeat of Benton events would naturally shape 
themselves as the Southern leaders desired. Benton hoped that 
with his victory extreme agitation by the Southern leaders would 
disappear. So this fight was not made on the issues really the 
cause of it, Judge Price often said. 

"Price was away from home for months at a time for the six 
years following 1844. There were no railroads in Missouri and 
travel was by horseback. He visited every part of the State time 
and again. He selected Judge Geyer of St. Louis as the man to 
defeat Benton. 340 When Benton returned to Missouri in 1850 
he found himself actually beaten and turned down. The first 
battle of the aggressive and rabid extremists of the slave power 
was thus fought out in Missouri and was a victory for them. 

"I asked Judge Price concerning the opening of Kansas to 
settlement. He said : 

339 Compare with Rogers's Benton, 275 ff. 

340 Judge Geyer was a Whig. He voted for the Kansas-Nebraska bill. 
Mr. Connelley states that Judge Price claimed also to have selected 
Claiborne F. Jackson for the Governorship in i860. It will be recollected 
that Jackson, when Governor, used every means in his power to carry 
Missouri out of the Union. 


" 'We were opposed to the opening of any part of the terri- 
tory of Old Missouri Territory to settlement, and for many reasons. 
It had been set aside as the Indian Country. The Government had 
removed the Eastern Indian tribes to that country and covenanted 
with them that they should never be molested in their new home. 
And this was done with a purpose, for if slavery could not go there 
we wanted no one there except the Indians. And there was no 
necessity for such settlement; millions of acres of better land were 
open to settlement in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, 
Alabama, and Texas. 

" 'To establish Territories in that country would, we knew, 
bring up the subject of slavery, and its admission or exclusion. 
We were excluded by the Compromise, but Southern men hoped 
in some way to bring about the repeal of that measure in some 
peaceful manner. Their most cherished hope for many years was 
to look upon the old manner of retaining the influence of Slave- 
State and Free-State at a balance in the Union by the admission 
of one slave State and one free State when the time for the admis- 
sion of any part of that domain was demanded by the economic 
conditions of the country. In the meantime we hoped to make 
four States of Texas, and to have slavery established in the country 
obtained from Spain and Mexico. 

" 'Many things transpired which we could not foresee. The 
discovery of gold in California was one of these. Then, as I 
said, it was necessary to defeat Benton in Missouri. The effects 
of this defeat were bad. He was ambitious, though old. He 
should, according to our calculations, have retired when he was 
defeated. But he immediately espoused the cause of Nebraska 
Territory. There were two causes for this. He knew we were 
opposed to it and he knew that the slave power was not prepared 
to enter upon a struggle for its very existence. He wished to 
precipitate things. And, he saw he could never regain his seat 
in the Senate from Missouri. He had become interested in Fre- 
mont's explorations of the West. 

" 'Benton was a man of ability and wonderful foresight. He 
predicted that a great city would one day be built at the mouth 
of the Kansas River. He intended to move there and live in the 


new Territory and eventually be one of its first United States 
Senators when it was admitted as a State, as he had been one of 
the first of Missouri's Senators. At my suggestion Atchison ac- 
cused him of this intention, and denounced him for it in a speech, 
delivered I think in Liberty. 

" 'One of the things which proved bad for us was the removal 
of the Wyandotts to the mouth of the Kansas River. It was not 
the intention that they should settle there. They were to have 
a large tract of land in Southern Kansas (what is now Southern 
Kansas). No one supposed they would buy land of another tribe; 
such a thing had not been thought of. When they bought land 
of the Delawares and obtained control of the mouth of the Kansas 
River we were fearful that it was not for our best interest; there 
were too many white men in the tribe. Then the tribe came 
recently from Ohio where there was much opposition to slavery, 
and where existed the most successful underground railroad for 
conveying slaves to Canada. Then again, this tribe had but just 
settled at the mouth of the Kansas River when the division of the 
Methodist Church into Northern and Southern parts caused almost 
a war between the factions of the tribe. The portion of the tribe 
which wished to remain with the Old Church cried out against 
slavery, and the question was kept in constant agitation where we 
most desired nothing said. When it was supposed that Nebraska 
Territory would be organized we were often solicited by the fac- 
tion in favor of the Church, South, to take a hand, but we were 
averse to doing that and hoped the question would quiet down. 
However, it did not do so. Benton, Blair, Brown, even Phelps, 341 
encouraged its agitation. The moving spirits in the cause of the 
Church, North, and in condemning slavery, were J. M. Armstrong 
and Abelard Guthrie. 342 Guthrie remained in Washington much 
of the time, as we believed then, at Benton's expense. At any 
rate, it was known that he and Benton were much together; we 
had no doubt they acted in concert.' " 343 

•541 F. P. Blair, Jr., B. Gratz Brown, J. S. Phelps. The last was a 
Democratic Representative from Missouri in the 33d Congress. 

342 For a sketch of Guthrie, see Connelley's Prov. Gov., ior. 

343 Mr. Connelley concludes his statement and report of the conversa- 


tion related above, with the statement that "the foregoing was hurriedly 
written by me after the conversation with Judge Price, and I may have 
misunderstood some things or may have put some things in a light he did 
not intend. I was very busy in those days and intended to go over all 
these matters in a more leisurely way, but the time never came when I 

"I do not doubt the statements of Judge Price. I am sure they were 
truthful, for he was a man of truth. Though, in long years he may have 
fallen into some error unconsciously about even the part he played himself 
in those times. It was my intention to try his statements by all the con- 
temporary evidence I could secure both for and against him. And I give 
you what he told me, so far as I have been able to find it among my 
papers, and advise you to do as I had intended. If it stands, all right; 

if not all right I believe the Repeal originated with him and that 

he should have credit for it." 


Senator Atchison's Letter, June 5, 1854 

"In the month of May last year [1853] Col. Benton made 
speeches at Kansas, Westport and Independence in which he 
mounted ostensibly two hobbies: the central railroad to the Pacific 
and the organization of the territory west of the Missouri and 
Iowa. Those speeches were intended to create a false impression 
upon the public mind, not to accomplish the objects which he 
professed to desire; they were planned and delivered for one 
object and that object was to stir up a 'pestiferous agitation' by 
which his ambitious designs might be promoted. Prompted by 
hatred against all who have refused to abandon their political 
faith to further his schemes and look to the support of the old 
federal and abolition cohorts of the North, it was he who first 
sounded the tocsin of war against the slaveholding States of which 
Missouri is one in connection with the Pacific railroad and the 
organization of Nebraska and Kansas. 344 It was from him that 
the first appeal went forth to the freesoil and abolition fanatics to 
resist each and every effort to open our territory west on constitu- 
tional grounds to settlement by the citizens of all the States of 
the Union. 

"To deceive the unsuspecting in Missouri he made a great 
clamor at the same time about the central route and raised a false 
alarm against the South. As if this was not sufficient he declared 
that portions of that territory were open to immediate settlement 
and urged the pioneers to rush into it. Why, if he was a sincere 
friend of Nebraska and the central route did he seek thus unnec- 
essarily to embarrass those questions and mislead the people of 
Missouri and the Union? You will remember that he pursued 
his sinister designs in various letters during the following summer 

344 The italics are mine. 


and even caused a map to be prepared and distributed, the bad 
character of which was fully exposed at that time. 

"All of this I understood (at the time) and exposed and 
what was then only conjecture is now realized. It was not the 
organization of the territories and the central route for which he 
cared ; it was Col. Benton's advance by Free Soil aid for which he 
was striving. Those questions were a mere pretext with him, a 
cover under which the better to work his way insidiously to the 
goal of his ambition. Hence in those speeches he said : 

" 'To defeat me (Benton) is one of their modes of defeating 

the road The point at which they can do us no harm is in 

the organization of the territories on the Kansas and the Platte. 
Two things are needed there: first, the establishment of the terri- 
torial government; and the next, the extinguishment of Indian 
titles. Both are points of difficulty and peculiarly subject to dan- 
gers from insidious opposition. The Indian treaties, even when 
negotiated, will have a perilous course to run through the Senate 
(where the proceedings are secret) and where a minority of one- 
third could defeat them and where the pestiferous question of free 
soil will mix itself with the decision. Near thirty years ago the 
United States made a general extinction of Indian titles west of 
Missouri to be assigned in parcels to emigrating tribes. Part has 
been assigned, part not; and this unassigned part I hold to be 
open to settlement without objection from the Indians.' 

" 'The danger from insidious opposition' and whence it was 
to come those speeches showed. They artfully and purposely 
created the danger by awakening and inviting that pestiferous 
Free Soil opposition ; and by seeking at once without waiting for 
constitutional action to involve the settlers and the settlement of 
the country in the inextricable difficulties which would furnish 
another pretext for fanning the pestiferous flame thus sought to 
be kindled; subsequent events have demonstrated Benton's object. 
He has since become the recognized champion of that very Free 
Soil faction in opposition to the constitutional and republican mode 
of settling those territories. He has led the very 'pestiferous' 
host which he pretended to fear. He has become the commander 
of the 'pestiferous Free Soil' opposition to Nebraska and Kansas! 
Did I mistake his objects in May, 1853? Judge ye! 


"Again in his letter of May 15, 1853, 345 Benton said: 

" 'In the substance of speeches which I delivered at Kansas, 
Westport and Independence (and which were intended for the 
whole State although delivered in one county) you will see this 
opposition described and that under both of its characters of fair 
and foul, in the latter of which I include the opposition from this 
State and the whole of which has its root in that traitorous nulli- 
fication of which you speak At the last session this same 

treasonable doctrine manifested itself in a clandestine opposition 
to Nebraska because it was Free Soil' etc. 346 

"This anyone can see was directly intended to arouse the 
abolition spirit of New England and New York and Ohio and to 
excite the abolitionists of St. Louis into activity. It required but 
a small portion of that foresight which Benton so ostentatiously 
claims to possess to detect his real end and aim in using such lan- 
guage. The opposition of myself to Free Soil he denounced not 
to injure me with slaveholders, of course not; but help himself 
with the Free Soil enemies of slaveholders*. That was his object 
and his only object. To preach Freesoilism was the way to com- 
mend himself to Northern Freesoilers ; he did this to gain Northern 
not Southern support. I was opposed to his Free Soil notions 
and still am opposed to them whether preached by him. Giddings, 
Sumner, Hale, Garrison. Theodore Parker or Wendell Phillips; 
whether 'insidiously' manufactured in Missouri, or boldly pro- 
claimed in open rebellion and the shedding of blood in the streets 
of Boston. That treasonable doctrine and all treasonable doctrines 
which call for resistance, open or insidious, to the Constitution and 
laws I must, I shall always, oppose. 

"But on what were Col. Benton's charges against the Demo- 
crats in Congress, the Administration, the Democratic party of 
Missouri and myself based? He has defined his position to be in 
favor of Free Soil in Nebraska and Kansas. In my speech at 
Parkville [Aug. 6] and elsewhere in Missouri / defined my posi- 
tion, a position which he pronounced 'traitorous nullification' and 
'treasonable doctrine,' a position occupied by every sound Democrat 

345 The Cole county letter, quoted in Chapter IV 

346 These italics are Atchison's. 


in and out of Congress and by the present Democratic Adminis- 
tration and fully and clearly taken and maintained in the Kansas- 
Nebraska bill 347 which has just passed Congress despite of Ben- 
ton and his Free Soil friends in opposition to it and which has 
promptly received the approving signature of Franklin Pierce as 
President of the United States. That position was against Free- 
soilism and was thus distinctly announced by me at Parkville. 

m 348 

"Thus the doctrine for which I contended and which Benton 
fiercely denounced was distinctly enunciated by me. On that he 
joined issue both in Missouri and in Congress. 349 I contended 
for the right of the people in the Territories to govern themselves 
under the Federal Constitution, and to form republican State 
constitutions in such wise as they might deem expedient, when 
they sought admission into the Union as States. I contended that 
each State on coming into the Union, has a right to come in on 
terms of equality with the other States. I denied the right of 
Congress to say to any State of this Union that it should establish 
or abolish slavery. The Missouri Compromise and the Missouri 
restriction practically asserted that Congress had such rights. 
Here then was and still is the issue; Benton insisted that Kansas 
and Nebraska should be Freesoil ; that the law of organization 
should be so framed and ought to be so framed, 350 that all of his 
slaveholding constituents would be excluded from those Terri- 
tories ; that the citizens of one half the Union should be also ex- 
cluded ; that Congress had the right and ought to exercise it, to 
make Territories and consequently States freesoil States and Terri- 
tories. / accepted that issue and so did the Democrats of Missouri. 
The battle has been fought in Congress over the Douglas bill 351 
and the Democracy has won a proud victory. On the one side 
stood the Administration, the true-hearted Democrats of the North, 


347 These italics are mine. 

348 Here occurs a quotation from his Parkville speech. See Chapter 

349 The italics are mine. 

350 These italics are Atchison's. 

351 The italics are mine. 


nearly every Congressman from the Southern Whigs and Demo- 
crats, a majority from every State west of the Alleghanies, from 
the Falls of St. Anthony on the north to the Gulf and Rio Grande 
on the south (except Ohio and Wisconsin), aided gallantly by 
your sister State on the Pacific. On the other side were (to use 
the language of Benton when in 1830 he was battling for the 
Democracy and the West) 'a motley group, a most miscellaneous 
concourse, the speckled progeny of many conjunctions, veteran 
Federalists, benevolent females, politicians who have lost their 
caste,' etc., all marching under the leadership of Benton, Giddings, 
Sumner, Chase, Seward and Company. The lines were thus 
drawn on the national theater as they had previously been 
drawn by Benton in our State, 351 the Democracy battling for 
the Constitution and the rights of the people to govern themselves 
against the gathered fragments of old Federalism, abolitionism 
and all the varied isms of which Freesoil has been so prolific in 
these later times. My position on this subject was well-known 
in Washington, 351 and the issue that Benton made upon it I never 
shrunk from 352 

"The same distinct acceptance of the issue tendered by Benton 
was not only made by me in my speech at Parkville, but also at 
Weston and Fayette and elsewhere. At Weston I declared: 

"'. . . .1 will support a bill to organize a government for 
that Territory upon the condition that such bill contains no restric- 
tions upon the subject of slavery; and not otherwise. I will vote 
for a bill that leaves the slaveholder and non-slaveholder upon 
terms of equality. I am willing that the people who may settle 
there and who have the deepest interest in this question should 
decide it for themselves. 353 As a very large and respectable por- 
tion of my constituents are directly and indirectly interested in 
slave property, I am unwilling that they with this species of 
property should be excluded. I will give no advantage to one 

citizen over another That there may be no mistake and 

that I may not be misunderstood hereafter, I now say emphatically 

352 Here occurs another quotation from his Parkville speech, and a 
brief, caustic, allusion to Theodore Parker and the Anthony Burns case. 
333 The italics are mine. 


that I will not vote for any bill that makes Nebraska Freesoil 
Territory. I have not, and do not intend upon any occasion to 
yield one inch to the spirit of freesoilism and abolitionism, whether 
they exhibit themselves at home or at Washington.' 

"/ trust Fellow-citizens, that I have redeemed this pledge to 
the letter, 353 I congratulate you and the country that the boldness 
with which this new abolition crusade was met has resulted in 
banishing, it is hoped forever, from the halls of Congress the long 
continued agitation of fanatics against our property and our rights, 
the guarantees of the Constitution and the cherished principles of 

"As Benton, however, continued his assaults in letter after 
letter during the whole of last summer, it became necessary for me 
repeatedly to meet the issue he had formed 3S4 

"It was thus down to the latest moments before leaving Mis- 
souri to attend the meeting of Congress at the present session. 
/ openly accepted the issue that Benton had made. 35S Early in 
the present session Judge Douglas, as chairman of the Committee 
on Territories, introduced a bill virtually repealing the Missouri 
restriction. To avoid all possibility of cavil or doubt he phrased 
that part of the bill anew. Then came in Congress the fierce 
conflict which Benton had foreseen and for which he had prepared 
the Freesoilers and abolitionists and which after nearly five months' 
struggle resulted in the triumph of the Constitution and justice. 
/ declared that I would vote for no bill unless it rid us of the 
unconstitutional and anti-republican and iniquitous restriction of 
1820. So said a large majority of Congress. The Administration 
nobly came up to the same standard; Benton threw himself into 
the leadership of the opposition, notwithstanding he first obtained 
the confidence and support of the Missourians by his opposition to 
the infamous restriction and owes his political life to that fact; 
notwithstanding in an elaborate speech in 1830 he demonstrated by 
the record that from the first organization of the government to 
that hour, northeastern federalism, with its ally abolitionism had 

354 Here occurs a quotation from his speech at Fayette. See Chapter 

355 The italics in this paragraph are mine. 


always warred against the growth and prosperity of the West and 
that the South generally aided by the true Democrats of the North 
have striven to beat back the tide of federal hostility; notwith- 
standing the constitutional equality of the States was at issue and 
the rights and interests of his constituents; notwithstanding the 
West in almost solid column zuas demanding that the Indian wall 
on our frontier should be removed and Missouri be permitted freely 
to expand westward towards the Pacific; notwithstanding the 'wolf 
howl' of abolitionism and federalism was again raised in order to 
roll back from our State the tide of wealth and prosperity about 
to flow through it; despite too his talk last spring and summer 
about the importance and necessity of the immediate settlement 
and organization of that Territory, he was foremost in the contest 
against right and justice, laboring with bold and unblushing 
effrontery to defeat what he had pretended most earnestly to desire, 
even to the extent of villifying the Administration and a Demo- 
cratic Congress, falsifying history, and openly joining in the abo- 
lition crusade against Missouri and the West and South with such 
coadjutors as Giddings and Chase. 

"To the very last he cooperated with those enemies of the 
West and South in the most disorganizing and factious efforts to 
prevent a decided majority in Congress from passing a constitu- 
tional and anti-freesoil law for the immediate organization of 
Nebraska and Kansas. 

"I now appeal to every man of candor and common sense in 
Missouri whether I was not right when last summer I boldly took 
up the gauntlet which Benton hurled at my feet, and stripped from 
him the mask he wore; declared that the 'insidious opposition' to 
the territorial organization and the 'traitorous nullification' were 
his; that his pretended love for Nebraska and the Central route 
were mere hypocritical pretenses on his part. Subsequent events, 
history, recorded history, has made that fact which was then mere 

"This issue made by Benton 3S6 between Freesoil and abolition- 
ism on the one hand, and the Constitution and the rights of self- 
government on the other hand has to be met in Missouri at the 


ballot boxes next August. 356 The abolitionists of the North and 
Benton their champion are marshalling their forces for the contest. 
The first great conflict is in our State. 3S6 Hold Benton and the 
Swiss guard to the issue they have made. We only ask that there 
shall be no dodging; that they shall stand to the banner which 
he has ostentatiously erected. I know that thousands who did not 
understand his 'insidious' designs, honest and good men, have 
deserted him during the last three months; men who are sincere 
and zealous Democrats but who last year could not be made to 
believe that one so long honored by Missouri could so foully betray 
her and the Constitution. Now Benton himself has given them 
proof positive. There is no room for doubt from this hour 
forward 357 

"Before passing to another point I would refer to the third 
resolution adopted by a county meeting in St. Louis on the ninth 
of January last, 358 which meeting was composed of the confidential 
friends and mouthpieces of Benton. At that meeting Messrs. 
W. V. N. Boy, Thomas L. Price, B. Gratz Brown, A. Kreckel, 
H. Dusenbury and John A. Kasson made the speeches. A com- 
mittee of twenty-four reported the resolution through F. P. Blair, 
Jr., and said resolution was on motion of A Keyser unanimously 
adopted, according to the report in Benton's organ. The third 
resolution was as follows: 

" 'Resolved that we are in favor of the immediate organization 
of a territorial government for Nebraska, and that we regard all 

356 The italics are mine. 

357 At this point Mr. Atchison took up the consideration of the subject 
of the Pacific railroad and said: "Intimately connected with this the main 
issue made by Benton was his effort to mislead the people concerning a 
railroad to the Pacific. One who did not know the hollow insincerity of 
Benton would have supposed last year that he was panting for the open- 
ing of Congress in order that he might introduce and carry through a bill 
to construct a railroad to the Pacific without waiting for what he asserted 
was the unnecessary surveys of United States engineers as well as to carry 
a bill for the immediate organization of Nebraska. The latter he asserted 
was an essential step to the former. Yet I have shown that instead of 
supporting he became a leader of the opposition to territorial organiza- 
tion " 

358 This meeting was mentioned in Chapter VI. 


who oppose it upon whatever pretext, as hostile to the best interests 
of the State.' 

"Thus out of the mouths of his own chosen witnesses Col. 
Benton stands condemned 'as hostile to the best interests of the 
State.' 359 

"The Douglas bill was a western measure. It was designed 
to add to the power and wealth of the West. 360 The same po- 
litical party which opposed the organization of Louisiana and 
Texas and threatened to dissolve the Union if that acquisition was 
made ; that opposed the sending of forces to protect western settle- 
ments during the early Indian wars; that opposed the war of 18 12 
and rejoiced at the massacres in the northwest and mourned over 
the triumphs of Macomb and Brown and Harrison and Jackson; 
that in the Hartford Convention hatched Freesoilism by resolving 
that another slave State should never be admitted into the Union ; 
that caused the Missouri agitation and that agitation kept this 
State out of the Union for about two years, and forced the passage 
of the so-called Missouri Compromise; that denounced the war 
with Mexico ; that concocted the Wilmot Proviso ; that contended 
against the 'indemnity for the past and security for the future' 
whereby New Mexico, Utah and California were acquired; that 
erected the Buffalo platform to defeat Gen. Cass; a party of sec- 
tional (and abolitionist) caste, ivhich has never failed to war 
against the West, 360 the Constitution and the honor of the country. 
Well might St. Louis declare Benton as hostile to her best interests ; 
for no portion of the country is to be so largely benefited by open- 
ing Nebraska and Kansas to settlement. All of the railroad 
interests are largely interested, for a terminus on the western 
frontier, blocked up by an Indian wall, is very different from an 
indefinite extension west through new and rapidly opening settle- 
ments. Every interest in St. Louis was connected with this 
territorial question and there can be no plausible excuse for the 
envenomed hostility which the St. Louis representative has 
manifested since the Senate first commenced to act on the subject 
during the present session of Congress. His friends even had 

359 The italics are Atchison's. 

360 The italics are mine. 


the sagacity to see all this last January and then to denounce him 
in advance if he dared to betray those interests as he has since done. 

"In his recent speech against the Kansas-Nebraska bill and 
the Administration, Col. Benton said he should obey the instruc- 
tions of the Legislature passed in 1847. This is an afterthought 
for him. When the instructions to which he refers were in force 
he voted against their requirement, as he did against the known 
wishes of nine-tenths of his constituents, when the Texas annexa- 
tion measure was before the Senate. The same Legislature that 
elected him to the Senate at the session of 1844-45, elected him 
under a distinct pledge given by his friends that he would obey 
the instructions which might be passed. Without that pledge he 
could not have been elected. That Legislature passed these instruc- 
tions intended, as he and all others well knew, expressly for him: 

" 'Fifth resolution : That in the opinion of this General 
Assembly, a great majority of the people of this State prefer that 
Texas should be annexed to the United States without dividing 
her territory into slaveholding and non-slaveholding States; but 
leaving that question to be settled by the people who now or may 
hereafter, occupy the territory that may be annexed? 361 

"Thus did Missouri announce the same great doctrines for 
which I contended and on which the Douglas bill was framed 362 
and against which Benton has joined issue with me, with the Legis- 
lature and with the Democracy of Missouri, with Congress and 
with the Administration. 

"Again our State declared through her Legislature that doc- 
trine in 1849, the same to which no one save Benton and a few 
St. Louis Freesoilers have ever dared openly to express any dissent 
in our State. That doctrine, the same as that on which Douglas's 
bill and the Administration stand as well as the whole Democracy 
of the United States was thus enunciated by a resolution of our 
General Assembly: 

" 'Resolved, That the right to prohibit slavery in any Terri- 
tory belongs exclusively to the people thereof and can only be 

361 The italics are mine. Cong. Globe, xiv, 154. See Chapter VI. 

362 The italics are mine. 


exercised by them in forming their Constitution for a State gov- 
ernment or in their sovereign capacity as an independent State.' 

"Benton has in this as in most other matters shown 'himself 
'hostile to the best interests of the State' and to its cherished opinion. 
Ever since he commenced courting Freesoil support he has turned 
his back upon Missouri and his constituents. 

"Fellow-citizens, in the great contest which has just ended 
in Congress upon the Kansas-Nebraska bill, the whole Missouri 
delegation has proved true to the instructions of the Legislature, 
to the Constitution and to the rights of self-government, ex- 
cept only the representative from St. Louis. Geyer, Lamb, Phelps, 
Caruthers, Miller, Oliver, and Lindley have stood up like men 
for the Douglas bill and deserve well of their constituents. 

"David R. Atchison. 

"Washington, June 5, 1854-" 363 

363 This letter was printed in the Missouri Republican, June 21, 1854. 


Colonel barker's "Secret History of the Kansas- 
Nebraska Bill" 

Colonel John A. Parker's article on The Secret 
History of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, referred to in 
the text, was afterwards published in pamphlet 
form, 364 and in that form is preceded by an "Intro- 

364 of this pamphlet, I have seen but two copies. One is in the 
Boston Public Library, and the other was loaned to me by Mrs. R. E. 
Wynne of Tappahannock, Essex County, Virginia, the only surviving child 
of Colonel Parker. The title pages of these two copies differ. That of 
the Boston copy is as follows: "Reprinted from the National Quarterly 
Review, July, 1880. Copyrighted. What Led to the War, or the Secret 
History of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. By Col. John A. Parker of Virginia. 
With an Introductory Note by Waldorf H. Phillips of New York. New 
York, Thompson and Morean, Printers, 51 & 53 Maiden Lane, 1880." 
The title page of the Wynne copy is as follows: "The Missing Link. 
Reprinted from the National Quarterly Review for July, 1S80. Copy- 
right. What Led to the War or the Secret History of the Kansas- 
Nebraska Bill by Col. John A. Parker of Virginia. With an Appendix 
containing Sketches and Reminiscences of 'The Richmond Enquirer' and 
'Whig' and their Editors, and an Introductory Note by Waldorf H. Phil- 
lips of New York. Washington, D. C. Gray & Clarkson, Printers and 
Publishers, 1886." 

The body of the two editions of the pamphlet are, I think, precisely 
alike, except that the Introductory Note of the Wynne copy contains this 
statement which did not appear in the earlier reprint: "This was written, 
viz., in October, 1883. Hon. Jefferson Davis has written to Colonel Parker, 
and confirmed every fact contained in this paper." Very few papers be- 
longing to Colonel Parker have been preserved, and such as are known to 
be in existence are in the possession of Mrs. Wynne through whose courtesy 
I have been able to examine them. The Davis letter has not been found. 
There is some correspondence of Parker and Davis in the Confederate 


ductory Note" written by Waldorf H. Phillips of 
New York, giving a number of facts in Colonel 
Parker's life, of which the most important follow. 

At the time the pamphlet was written Colonel 
Parker was, and had been since 1859, representing the 
State of Virginia "in a matter of very great import- 
ance to her and to other States." He and Mr. Thom- 
as Green, a son-in-law of Thomas Ritchie, were as- 
sociated as agents for the State of Virginia to procure 
a settlement from the Federal Government for money 
loaned by the State of Virginia for the purpose of 
erecting public buildings, and also for money loaned 
in the War of 1 8 1 2. In the settlement of these claims 
which were not finally adjusted until after his death 
in 1894, Colonel Parker was engaged for some 
years. 36S For forty years he had been officially con- 
nected with the Federal Government either at home 
or abroad. In 1835 he was sent by President Jack- 
son on a secret mission to Texas connected with the 
independence of that State. In 1851 he was appoint- 
ed Librarian of the House of Representatives. In 
1855 he was Secretary of the Judiciary Committee 
of the House which then had charge of the investi- 
gation of the great frauds consummated by Gardiner 
and others under the Mexican treaty. In 1856 Park- 

Museum at Richmond, Va., but I have been unable to get trace of this 
valuable document. 

I have also been unable to discover who Waldorf H. Phillips may have 
been. Mrs. Wynne could give me no information upon this point. Mr. 
Phillips concluded his Introductory Note by saying that "Colonel Parker 
is not even acquainted with Mr. Phillips, nor does he know certainly how 
he obtained the information he has given in his introductory " 

365 Beverley Tucker was the agent for South Carolina in a similar 
matter. Mrs. Wynne is authority for these statements. 


er was appointed Register of the Land Office of Ne- 
braska; in i860 he was appointed United States Con- 
sul at Honolulu. After he had made three requests 
to be relieved from this post the request was finally- 
granted in 1862. After his return to the United 
States Colonel Parker was offered a mission to South 
America which he declined. 366 
Mr. Phillips states that 

". . . .It was Colonel Parker's good fortune to be closely 
connected, politically and officially, with some of the principal 
actors, and with others by the closest ties of personal friendship 
and family relations. Among the latter was one who exerted more 
influence in making and unmaking public men in the United 
States than any other man in the same period, and of the posses- 
sion of whose entire confidence, to a degree which he did not fully 
impart to his own son, Colonel Parker has abundant evidence. This 
was Mr. Ritchie, 367 editor of the Washington Union. There 
was another, who reached the Presidency, whose confidential friend 
our author was for more than twenty years." 368 

366 "His record in all Departments," say Mr. Phillips, "shows that 
he has always discharged the duties assigned him to the entire satisfaction 
of the appointing power as well as his own lasting merit." 

367 Thomas Ritchie, who was also editor of the Richmond Enquirer 
for forty years; died 1854. 

368 Probably President Buchanan. The Virginia Magazine of History 
and Biography for July, 1905, contains some "Reminiscences of Colonel 
Parker" relating to the nomination of Buchanan and of Parker's relations 
with him. 

In these "Reminiscences," written in March, 1877, there occurs the fol- 
lowing reference to the Kansas-Nebraska bill, from which it is fair to 
infer that Colonel Parker had contemplated the publication of his story 
of the origin of the Repeal several years before his article was published: 

"'The Kansas-Nebraska bill. Only two persons are now living who 
know the real author of that bill, its history and purposes. Judge Douglas 
was the reputed author — and its patron, and the American people, even 
now, think he was the real author; I know he was not — and I knoiv hoiv 
and ic/iy he became its active patron. 

"The true history of the bill is written, it has never yet been published, 


In anticipation of the very pertinent query why 
the publication of the facts contained in this pam- 
phlet had been so long delayed, Mr. Phillips has this 
to say: 

". . . .It has been only after persistent urging on the part 
of his friends and many prominent gentlemen all over the coun- 
try, and after many years of deliberation, that Colonel Parker 
has been induced to write his article. He believed until very 
lately, that the time had not come for a calm consideration and an 
impartial judgment of the facts. The angry and bitter feeling en- 
gendered by the late struggle had not sufficiently died out " 

Mr. Phillips adds that 

"Colonel Parker desires to say that no confidence is violated 
in making this publication, and that the information it contains 
was honorably acquired. He also wishes to distinctly disclaim 
any intention to assail the motives of the originator of the impor- 
tant measure, who, he believes was governed by the highest con- 
siderations which bind man to his fellow man, the belief that he 
was honorably serving his country, and fidelity to personal and 
political friendship, or of any of the distinguished actors of whom 
he speaks or to whom he alludes. If their acts proved disastrous, 
they should not be too harshly judged. It is frequently the case, 
that men, intending no injury and with the purest motives, commit 
great and lamentable errors." 

Mr. Phillips's introductory statement is not the 
only testimony bearing upon Colonel Parker's credi- 
bility as a witness. As has already been stated, Colo- 
nel Parker in 1851 was appointed Librarian of the 
House of Representatives at Washington. Early in 
December, 1853, at the opening of the first session of 
the 33d Congress, the session which enacted the Re- 
peal, Parker was removed from that office by the 

but may be before I die — or afterwards, and also these sketches, which will 
be found among my papers, with my correspondence, to sustain and fully 
verify, every statement I have made." 


Clerk of the House, .Mr. John W. Forney of Penn- 
sylvania, with whom the power of appointment and 
removal was then vested. This action of Forney's 
seems to have occasioned no small amount of agita- 
tion and indignation among the members of the Vir- 
ginia Congressional delegation, and the Richmond 
Enquirer devoted considerable space to the circum- 
stances of the removal, including the publication of 
a long letter 369 from Colonel Parker in which he re- 
plies to certain criticisms by Mr. Forney. In all this 
there is nothing which tends to throw discred- 
it upon Colonel Parker or to impeach the 
value of his testimony. "Fairfax," the Wash- 
ington Correspondent of the Richmond En- 
quirer, spoke of him at this time in the following 
terms: "Colonel John A. Parker of Virginia is 
known to most of your readers as a politician of abil- 
ity and as an honorable gentleman. He is and al- 
ways has been a sound Democrat and has been Libra- 
rian of the House of Representatives for the past two 
years " 370 

369 This letter was dated December 10, 1853, and appeared in the 
Enquirer, December 20. 

3"0 Writing December 6, 1S53, in the Enquirer of December 9, 1S53. 
"Fairfax" continues: "This ofhee is within the gift of the Clerk of the 
House. To-day Mr. Parker was removed by Forney. The cause assigned 
is. the absence of Mr. Parker from Washington from time to time during 
the summer when there is nothing to do. . . . The majority of the Virginia 
delegation would not vote for Forney for Clerk and Mr. Parker would not 
be made the tool to advocate the reelection of the 'stool pigeon' candidate 
and hence his removal. It is to revenge himself upon the Virginia dele- 
gation that Forney has struck off Parker's head. Probably he may yet 
regret the gratification of his malice. The Librarian has no connection 
with the clerkship and there is no reason why he should be appointed by 
the Clerk. A movement is now on foot to make the office elective and to 
restore Mr. Parker to his place by vote of the House. This should be done. 


The facts stated above create a strong presump- 
tion in favor of the reliability of Parker's testi- 
mony. It may be alleged on the other hand that at 
the age of seventy-six 371 a man's memory is likely to 
be so defective as to be quite unreliable. To this the 
rejoinder may be made that the circumstances con- 
nected with an event of such interest and importance 
and magnitude as the repeal of the Missouri Com- 
promise would sink more deeply in one's mind and be 
recalled after the lapse of years with much greater 
distinctness and accuracy than circumstances of or- 
dinary importance. Especially would this line of 
reasoning hold true of a professional politician a 
part of whose business it is to observe accurately and 
hold tenaciously in mind events of such supreme po- 
litical importance as was the repeal of the Missouri 

After this preliminary examination of Colonel 
Parkers credibility as a witness, we are prepared to 
take up his testimony. 

"The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and the execution 

It is a point of honor with the Virginia and Southern Democrats who re- 
fused to vote for Forney; the justification or the condemnation of their 
course is involved in the decision. There can be no doubt of the action of 
the House. It will be glad to do justice " On the thirteenth, Fair- 
fax wrote: "The resolution to elect a House Librarian was defeated to-day 
by four votes. It will yet pass in some shape or other. The majority of the 
House are in favor of it." In the Enquirer of December 16, 1853. See 
Cong. Globe, xxviii, Pt. i, 22, 34, 35, 40, and the remarks of Mr. Bayly 
of Virginia, December 22, 1853. 

371 Parker was born February 20, 1804, in Westmoreland County, 
Virginia, and died, June, 1894, in his ninety-first year. This would make 
his age at the time his pamphlet first appeared, seventy-six. Mrs. Wynne 
states in a letter that "he was in perfect health when he wrote that 
pamphlet and had the most remarkable memory I ever knew. He was 
called a 'walking encyclopaedia.' Never forgot dates." 


of the law by Presidents Pierce and Buchanan, led directly to se- 
cession and its consequences. The Kansas-Nebraska bill was the 
most important which ever passed the Congress of the United 
States. Yet the American people to this day do not know, and 
cannot have known, who was its author, or what were the imme- 
diate objects to be accomplished by its passage. Stephen A. Doug- 
las was, and still is, believed by the country to have been its 
author. It is a fact that he, as Chairman of the Senate Committee 
on Territories, reported it to the Senate, and was its able and 
active supporter and advocate. But Mr. Douglas ivas not its 

"That the people of to-day may know the importance of that 
bill, it is necessary that a brief sketch be given of the slavery 
question. The writer desires to say, and it is due to the reader, that 
he was in 1854 m a position to know many facts and incidents 
connected with this bill which were not accessible to the public, 
or even to the press of the country. He believes only one other 
person, perhaps two, to be now living, familiar with the origin 
and secret history of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. He may also add 
that he is familiar with, and has taken part in, the slavery agita- 
tion since 1819 and 1820, and that he was a slaveholder until 
the late war. As early as 1835 he was convinced that slavery 
was one of the greatest evils we had to contend with, and the 
greatest barrier to national prosperity. These views were ob- 
tained by observations made in extensive travels through the 
Southern and Western States. He, however, disapproved of the 
slavery agitation as conducted by Garrison and his coworkers. 
He believed that their course delayed the emancipation of the 
slaves, so much desired by some of the most distinguished men, 
slave-owners, in Virginia, in 1831 and 1832, who were then en- 
deavoring to devise some scheme for gradual emancipation." 

A sketch of the slavery controversy in the United 
States from the beginning down to 1854, covering 
several pages, is here omitted. 

"The people of Missouri had commenced the cultivation of 
hemp, a crop yielding large profits, but which it was believed 


could not be successfully produced except by slave labor. 372 That 
portion of Nebraska which is now Kansas was regarded as pecul- 
iarly adapted to the cultivation of hemp. It was known by the 
representatives of Missouri that for this reason the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise would be popular with the people of that 

"Thomas H. Benton had served thirty years in the Senate, 
but had then been superseded. He had lost caste with a portion 
of the Democratic party, after having been for many years its 
trusted and fearless leader. He never was popular with either of 
the extreme wings of the party, and was specially objectionable 
to the friends of Mr. Calhoun. He was too national to be pop- 
ular with the nullifiers and secessionists of the South or abolition- 
ists of the North. He had been the strongest supporter of Mr. 
Van Buren's administration, and many believed that he sympathiz- 
ed with that gentleman in 1848. After being defeated for the 
Senate he was elected to the House of Representatives, but he 
looked forward to a reelection to the Senate when the term of his 
late colleague, the Hon. D. R. Atchison, should expire. He had 
been further alienated from the Democratic party by his opposi- 
tion to Mr. Polk's administration during the Mexican War, and 
the bitter warfare which he waged against Secretary Marcy, Mr) 
Ritchie, and other prominent men of the party. Mr. Polk had 
made an effort to conciliate him, and against the protests of three 
members of his Cabinet, he appointed him Generalissimo of the 
armies in Mexico, to which office he was confirmed by the Senate. 

372 Paxton's Annals, 63 ff. gives a few interesting statements about 
the production and prices of hemp in that county during this period. 
"The Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican is permitted to extract 
the following passages from a private letter written by an East- 
ern gentleman now resident in Missouri to a friend in Springfield. The 
Republican says: 'We know the gentleman well, and his statements are 
entirely reliable.' 'I am informed that the adjacent territories of Kansas 
and Nebraska to the distance of two hundred miles west, furnish hemp 
lands equal to the best in Missouri. Already hundreds of hemp growers 
have made their selections for new farms in the vile-born territories and 
yet we have heard that Kansas and Nebraska are unsuited to slave labor.'" 
The geography and climate are then described at some length. — Quoted 
in Missouri Republican, June 23, 1854. 


He was clothed with diplomatic powers. In one hand he was to 
hold the sword and in the other the olive branch. But just at the 
time he was to leave on his mission, a misunderstanding arose and 
he was not sent. Mr. Atchison had been President of the Senate, 
was a native of Kentucky, and was very popular, especially in the 
South and with the friends of Mr. Calhoun. Mr. Benton and 
he had become bitter personal and political enemies. His term 
in the Senate was about to expire and Mr. Benton was his most 
formidable competitor. The result of the contest was considered 
doubtful, and it was deemed by Mr. Atchison's friends important 
to strengthen him in Missouri, and to weaken Mr. Benton. 

"How to do this was considered in 'secret session.' It is 
thought that only three, besides Mr. Atchison, knew in the early 
stages the programme marked out. Subsequently others were made 
acquainted with it. The originators of the plan fixed upon were 
Mr. Atchison and three other able and distinguished Southern 
Senators, men of great influence in the whole country, and espec- 
ially influential in the South. Only one of these four men is now 
living, and it is due to him and those now at rest to say that if 
they could have foreseen the consequences which would result 
from the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, we believe no one 
of them would ever have been instrumental in causing it. Mr. 
Pierce had carried for his election all the States of the Union, 
save Massachusetts, Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and it 
was believed that the measure to repeal the Missouri Compromise 
could be carried and cause but little sensation in the country. 
This was a grave error. The primary object, therefore which in- 
duced the initiation of the measure to repeal the Missouri Com- 
promise ivas to secure the reelection of Mr. Atchison to the Sen- 
ate. The means to be employed was the repeal of the Compromise, 
in order that the people of Missouri might carry their slaves to 
Kansas and there raise hemp. 

"The author of the Kansas-Nebraska bill ivas not Mr. Doug- 
las but Mr. Atchison. 373 

"Early in the session of 1854, Mr. Douglas, Chairman of the 
Committee on Territories, introduced a bill to establish a territo- 

373 The italics on this page are mine. 


rial government in Nebraska, then embracing the present States of 
Kansas, Nebraska, and parts of Colorado, and the Territories of 
Wyoming and Dakota. No mention was made in it of Kansas. 
The bill, as originally introduced, differed but little from kindred 
bills which had been passed by Congress. Soon after the intro- 
duction of the bill Mr. Dixon, a Whig Senator from Kentucky, 
and a personal friend of Mr. Atchison, gave notice in the Senate 
that when this bill should come up he would offer an amendment 
to repeal the Missouri Compromise. This was the first notice 
that such action was contemplated. The whole country was taken 
by surprise. There were then two Democratic papers published 
in Washington: the Union, edited by O. P. Nicholson, the organ 
of Mr. Pierce's administration, and the Sentinel, edited by the 
gifted B. Tucker. Each of these papers, when Mr. Dixon gave 
this notice, denounced it as a Whig movement, intended to be a 
firebrand, and having for its object the breaking down of the 
Democratic party. The files of these papers will show the facts 
as here given. It is certain that neither of these editors was at 
the time in the secret. 

"Not long after the notice given by Mr. Dixon, Mr. Douglas 
moved in the Senate to have the Nebraska bill recommitted, which 
was done. Again, a little later he reported the Kansas-Nebraska 
bill for establishing two territorial governments. But before this 
was done he was made to believe that it would be a very popular 
movement in the South and contribute largely to his nomination 
for the Presidency in 1856. It is doubtful whether he ever knew 
the real object to be attained by the repeal. The President was 
also consulted and was impressed with the idea that if he made it 
an administration measure it would give him additional strength 
in the South, and greatly help him to a renomination in 1856. 
The President laid the subject before his Cabinet, then composed 
of Secretaries Marcy, Guthrie, Jefferson Davis, Campbell, Cush- 
ing, Dobbin and McClelland, and all consented that it should 
be made an administration measure. Mr. Marcy, who consented 
reluctantly, was not very cordial in its support." 374 

374 The following passage, occurring in a letter from the late Presi- 
dent George W. Atherton of the Pennsylvania State College, dated August 
19, 1904, is of some interest, in connection with these last statements of 


Then follows a sketch of the political events en- 
suing, including a brief outline of the Kansas trou- 
bles, down to the outbreak of the War, concluding 
with this summary: 

"This sketch has been written at the request of friends and 
to supply a missing link in the history of the past. It has been 
written in no sectional spirit, neither to wound the feelings of any 
now living nor to disturb the ashes of the dead. The writer has 
outlived all bitterness and unkind feeling toward any party or 
person on earth. 

"From these facts, as herein given, the following conclusions 
are warranted: 

"First: — That the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was 
not called for by the South at the time it was repealed, the bill 
being offered by a Northern man who was its ostensible author. 

Parker: "With regard to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, I must 
confine myself to the briefest possible statement. The impression which 
was publicly given out at the time was that since a Northern man pro- 
posed the repeal, the Southern leaders and Southern people could not gra- 
ciously refuse to assent to it, while it would have been a very different 
thing (said they) if the South had proposed it. The fact is on the con- 
trary, that the South proposed and insisted on it, and selected Senator 
Douglas as their fitting instrument, on account of his strength in the 
North, and they counted for success upon his well-known ambition to 
secure the vote of the South for the Presidency. Douglas refused to under- 
take the matter unless it should be made an iron-clad 'administration 
measure.' The President for a long time resisted the importunities of the 
Southern leaders, but was able at length to secure that assurance for Doug- 
las and he then undertook the work. 

"My informant as to the above was the Hon. Charles J. Faulkner, 
who was then in Congress, and was at the outbreak of the Rebellion our 
minister to France. After the close of the War, he was a member of the 
United States Senate from West Virginia. I have never had an oppor- 
tunity to follow up his statements, but they were unequivocal and vigorous, 
and my own recollection, although the conversation took place nearly thir- 
ty vears ago, cannot be at fault." Correspondence with Senator Faulk- 
ner's son, Hon. Charles J. Faulkner, Washington, D. C, has failed to bring 
to light anything of value in this connection. "Judge Price always told 
me that the South used Douglas." (Mr. Wm. E. Connelley in a state- 
ment to the author.) See Foote's Casket of Reminiscences, 193. 



"Second: — That the primary object of the Repeal was to 
politically strengthen one man and to weaken another. 

"Third: — That the South contended for a principle which 
had it been established, would have been of no political benefit to 
it or to the cause of slavery: 1. Because slavery could never have 
been established north of 36 30' ; 2. Because there was open to 
slavery south of 36 30', in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missis- 
sippi, Florida and Alabama, unoccupied lands sufficient to employ 
all the slaves in the United States, and their increase for at least 
one hundred years to come." 375 

375 It must be admitted that the value of Colonel Parker's testimony 
would be enhanced very materially if he had stated precisely the position 
he held in 1854 which enabled him to "know many facts and incidents 
connected with this bill which were not accessible to the public, or even 
to the press of the country," and particularly if his correspondence sus- 
taining and fully verifying every statement could be found. 

With the view to discover, if possible, this important fact in Parker's 
career, I have corresponded with a large number of individuals, including 
Mrs. R. E. Wynne, daughter of Col. Parker, Wm. G. Stannard of the 
Virginia Historical Society, John S. Wise, Esq., John Goode, Esq., Hon. 
John A. Kasson, Prof. Wm. E. Dodd, Judge T. R. B. Wright of Tappa- 
hannock, Va., and the late Hon. A. R. Spofford. Biographical dictionaries 
and Congressional Directories have also been consulted but no information 
has been obtained more definite than that which Parker himself gives. I 
suspect that Parker was the secretary or clerk of some congressional commit- 
tee, but this, of course, is mere conjecture and based only upon the fact that 
Parker was secretary of the Judiciary Committee of the House the year 
after the Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed. 


Atchison's Claims and Douglas's 'Denials 

In the Introduction it was stated that Senator 
Atchison on different occasions publicly claimed the 
credit of originating the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise and that it was mainly through his ef- 
forts that Mr. Douglas was induced to assume charge 
of the measure in Congress. The first of these oc- 
casions was in a speech delivered at Atchison in Kan- 
sas Territory, a few months after the passage of the 
Kansas-Nebraska bill. 376 Of this speech there are 
two contemporary accounts. The earlier of them 
appeared in the New York Tribune, October 10, 
1854, being copied into that paper from the Park- 
ville (Mo.) Luminary of September 26, where it was 
first published as told by an eye-witness. The later 
account was written by a correspondent of the Tri- 
bune in May, 1855, 377 and appeared in the Tribune, 
on the fourth of June, 1855. Since the later account 
in some respects logically precedes the earlier, it will 
be quoted first. 

376 September 20, 1854. 

377 Dated May 28, 1855. The author of this letter was the Rev. 
Frederick Starr, author of the Letters to the People published in 1853 
over the signature, "Lynceus." An interesting manuscript letter is attached 
to the copy of this pamphlet in the Harvard University Library, telling 
of the way in which the pamphlet came to be published and the excite- 
ment which it caused in western Missouri at the time. See also an edito- 
rial in the Missouri Republican, December 30, 1853. 


"St. Louis, Monday, 

"May 28, 1855. 

"Among all the letters in the Tribune from Kansas and its 
neighborhood, I do not recollect anywhere to have seen the true 
reason stated why the Parkville Luminary was destroyed and its 
proprietors presented with the alternative of flight or violence. 378 
Let me briefly disclose it. One warm day last summer a large 
crowd had assembled at the town site of Atchison in Kansas to 
attend a sale of lots. 'Dave' 379 himself was there, and as there 
was much whiskey and many friends, he got 'glorious' a little 
earlier in the day than usual. So with much spitting on his shirt 
and making himself more nasty than common the Vice-President 
delivered himself something after this wise: 

" 'Gentlemen, you make a d — d fuss about Douglas, but 
Douglas don't deserve the credit of this Nebraska bill. I told 
Douglas to introduce it. I originated it. I got Pierce committed 
to it, and all the glory belongs to me. All the South went for it, 
all to a man but Bell and Houston, and who are they? Mere 
nobodies, no influence, nobody cares for them.' 

"It happened that a young man from Parkville was present, 
a friend of Atchison, by the way. When he came home he was 
sounding Atchison's praises and repeating what he had said. Pat- 
terson of the Luminary got him to write down the exact words 
of the Vice-President, and the next number contained a verbatim 
report of portions of his conversation. By this time some of 
Dave's friends were sober, if he was not. There was trouble in 
the camp. The Platte Argus, the Atchison organ, came out with 
a flat denial of the language. The Parkville young man replied 
over his own initials, that he heard and reported the words exact- 
ly as they were published, and whoever should deny them was a 
liar, intimating his readiness to maintain the same against all 
comers. Meantime a chivalrous nephew of John Bell residing 
in St. Louis had seen the report of Atchison's language in the 
Luminary, and had written him requiring a categorical answer to 

378 This occurred April 14, 1855. A different cause for the destruc- 
tion of the Luminary is given in Paxton's Annals, 199. 

379 David R. Atchison. 


the question whether he had used the language imputed to him 
concerning his uncle. The tone of the letter was strongly sug- 
gestive of 'the usual satisfaction.' Dave evidently thought his 
three hundred pounds of flesh too good a mark for a pistol ball, 
and he accordingly replied to the nephew that he had the most 
distinguished consideration for his uncle and never said such a 
word about him, if he had said anything that the lying scoun- 
drels had tortured into what they published, he begged that it 
might be passed by, as he was 'in liquor at the time.' And thus 
the Vice-President escaped the vexation of personal responsibility 
for his language. Drunkenness is not usually regarded as a valid 
plea for a lawyer to make in behalf of a client, but it seems very 
good for a Vice-President. 

"But the mischief was done, notwithstanding. Douglas 
looked glum about his stolen thunder. Bell and Houston were 
not disposed to any special affability toward the President of the 
Senate. So he sent his resignation and stayed away two or three 
weeks after the meeting of Congress. 380 Judge with what bitter 
hatred he regarded the Luminary, and when he could sway the 
mob power, how eagerly he employed it to wreak his private 
vengeance. Veritas." 

The other and earlier of the two accounts of this 
speech at Atchison is as follows: 

"Gen. Atchison mounted an old wagon and made a speech. 
He commenced by alluding to the beautiful country which was 
now beginning to be settled, to some of the circumstances under 
which a territorial government was organized, and in the course 
of his remarks mentioned how Douglas came to introduce the 
Nebraska bill with the repeal clause in it. 

"Senator Atchison said that for himself, he is entirely devoted 
to the interests of the South, and that he would sacrifice everything 
but his hope of heaven to advance her welfare. He thought the 
Missouri Compromise ought to be repealed, he had pledged him- 

380 Atchison did not resign in so many words, but wrote a letter from 
Platte City, Mo., November 11, 1854, which was evidently interpreted 
by the Senate as a resignation. At any rate the Senate immediately pro- 
ceeded to elect a president pro tempore. The letter is printed in Cong. 
Globe, xxx, 1. 


self in his public addresses to vote for no territorial organization 
that would not annul it, and with this feeling in his heart, he 
desired to be chairman of the Committee on Territories when the 
bill was to be introduced. With this object in view, he had a 
private interview with Mr. Douglas and informed him of what he 
desired, the introduction of a bill for Nebraska like what he had 
promised to vote for, 3S1 and that he would like to be chairman 
of the Committee on Territories in order to introduce such a 
measure, and if he could get that position he would immediately 
resign as Speaker [sic] of the Senate. Judge Douglas requested 
twenty-four hours to consider the matter, and said if, at the expi- 
ration of that time he could not introduce such a bill as he (Mr. 
Atchison) proposed which would at the same time accord with his 
own sense of right and justice to the South, he would resign as the 
chairman of the territorial committee in Democratic caucus, and 
exert his influence to get him (Atchison) appointed. At the ex- 
piration of the given time Senator Douglas signified his intention 
to report such a bill as had been spoken of. 382 

"Gen. Atchison next spoke of those who had supported and 
those who had opposed the bill in the Senate, and remarked that 
Northern Democrats came up nobly to the work but that North- 

381 The italics are mine. See in this connection, Holloway's History 
of Kansas, 97-98 ; and Spring's Kansas, 24-25. 

382 The speech of Atchison on this occasion is quoted by Jehu Baker 
in his speech at Belleville, 111., October 18, 1854. The speaker added this 
comment: "He [Atchison] there reveals the secret history of the repeal of 

the Missouri Compromise Here we have it. Here we see Mr. 

Douglas taken aback by the proposal of Mr. Atchison, and requiring twen- 
ty-four hours to consider whether he can venture to make this leap! How 
perfectly irreconcilable is this with what Mr. Douglas has since insisted 
upon with so much pertinacity — that in urging the repeal of the Mis- 
souri Compromise he was, like a good patriot, obeying the solemn behests 
of the legislation of 1850! He had rested under that solemn patriotic 
obligation for three years without knowing it! Senator Atchison's sug- 
gestion quickens his conscience, and after twenty-four hours' reflection, he 
is enabled to hear a voice as it were, coming forth from the legislative 
scrolls of 1850, and bidding him, in the name of liberty, to strike down the 
prohibition of slavery in Kansas and Nebraska! Let thoughtful men pon- 
der these things in the love of truth." — The Weekly Democratic Press 
(Chicago), November 11, 1854. 


ern Whigs had proved recreant to the cause of justice and right. 
Southern men, he said, acted as they should have done, with, he 
was sorry to say, two exceptions. (A voice in the crowd here 
called out, 'Bell and Houston.') Yes, he said, these were the 
men, one Whig and one Democrat, hoth aspirants for the Pres- 
idency. But poor miserable devils, they had made a false step, 
and he might say now he (Atchison) had a fairer chance for that 
high honor than either of them. The American people loved 
honesty and could appreciate the acts of a man who openly and 
above board voted according to the will of his constituents, with- 
out regard to political favor. 

"Senator Atchison next alluded to the slavery question, as it 
is now being agitated in our community, and closed by expressing 
his profound contempt for abolitionists and their machinations, 
and said that if he had his way he would hang every one that 
dared show his face here. In referring, however, to Northern 
men settling in Kansas Territory, he said he knew there were 
sensible, honest, right-feeling men among them, who would be as 
far from stealing a negro, as a Southern man would, and his re- 
marks applied only to avowed abolitionists. Such is a glance at 
some of the points in Senator Atchison's speech." 

The fact that these assertions of authorship were 
made when Senator Atchison was, to all appearances, 
"under the influence of the invisible spirit of 
wine" 383 has caused previous writers to discount their 
importance. If, however, Mr. Atchison induced 
Mr. Douglas to champion the Repeal, the latter no 
doubt insisted, as a condition precedent, that Atchison 
should agree not to claim publicly the credit of orig- 
inating the plan of Repeal. Mr. Douglas would 
naturally wish to receive the entire public credit for 
the affair in view of its possible effect in attracting to 
himself political support. It would also be a part of 
the understanding that the agreement should be kept 

383 The quoted phrase is Mr. Rhodes's. 


secret: otherwise it is difficult to see how Douglas 
could hope to profit by the course he pursued. Now 
it is a common occurrence for men in their cups to 
become loquacious and to publish secrets the revela- 
tion of which often leads to unpleasant complications. 
No one thinks of rejecting in toto statements made 
under such circumstances. The fact that Mr. Atchi- 
son may have been intoxicated is not of itself suffi- 
cient to brand his assertions as false. 

There is no evidence that Senator Atchison was 
intoxicated when he delivered a speech at Platte 
City, Missouri, in February, 1856. On this occasion 
he made a much more guarded declaration of his 
part in the Repeal; yet the declaration by no means 
constitutes any denial of his previous claim. In- 
stead, it is a most unequivocal assertion that he had 
not only been ardently in favor of the Repeal but also 
a prominent agent in accomplishing it. The follow- 
ing passage from this speech is pertinent: 384 

"I now wish to review my course on the Kansas-Nebraska 
bill. When the subject was first introduced, you know I opposed 
it. I plainly saw, then, all the difficulties that would and have 
attended it. I told you then that it would be of no benefit to you. 
I told you it would be injurious to the commerce of the frontier 
counties; that the trade would go West with increase of popula- 
tion. But meetings were held, resolutions were passed, declaring 
it was your wish to open that Territory, and I, being a true Dem- 
ocrat promised to go for it on one condition, and that was, that 
the Missouri Compromise, so-called, — the Missouri restriction, 
properly called — be repealed. I addressed the people here in 
this court house, at Parkville, at Westport, in fact, all over the 
State, and told them that if the Compromise was repealed, I would 

334 Quoted in the N. Y. Times, February 25, 1856. See also Rev. Pol. 
Action, 74-75. 


go for a bill to organize the Territory, and in a speech at Inde- 
pendence, I told the people that, unless that restriction was re- 
pealed, I would see them damned before I would go for it. That 
was the English of it. Well, it was done. I do not say that I 
did it, but / was a prominent agent." 385 

A little more than two months after Senator 
Atchison's speech at Platte City, and nineteen months 
after the speech at Atchison, Kansas, Senator Doug- 
las publicly made what is usually interpreted as a 
complete denial of the truth of the statements refer- 
ring to himself contained in these reports of Senator 
Atchison's speech in Atchison, Kansas. 

This denial occurred in the course of a debate in 
the Senate upon the reception of the Kansas legisla- 
tive petition in April, 1856. 386 In order that the en- 
tire situation may be before the reader, the remarks 
preceding and following the denial of Mr. Douglas 
are given quite fully. 

"Mr. Wilson [of Massachusetts] : But that bill [the Ne- 
braska bill of the 32d Congress] was defeated. David R. Atch- 
ison, a man eulogized here for his thousand virtues, went home to 
Missouri; and in the summer of 1853 there was organized in 
western Missouri, secret lodges, sworn and pledged to carry slavery 
into Kansas, in spite of that prohibition of 1820. These secret 
lodges knew that the time had come to settle those rich lands in 
Kansas and Nebraska, and they resolved to plant slavery there. 
These secret societies were organized under the leadership of the 
then President of the Senate, the man who has been and who is this 
day the chieftain of the Border Ruffian Democracy, under whom 
the Senator from Illinois and the chiefs at the other end of the 
avenue arc mere lieutenants. 

"General Atchison came here in December, 1853. If we 

385 The italics are mine. 

386 April 14, 1856. — Cong. Globe, ist Sess., 34th Cong., Appendix, 390 
ff. Mr. Atchison was not a member of the Senate at this time. 


can rely upon his own statements, made to a public meeting in 
Atchison, Kansas, published in the St. Louis papers, and never 
denied by him, to my knowledge, he submitted the proposition to 
the Senator from Illinois, to bring in a bill to repeal the Missouri 
Compromise, or allow him to resign the Presidency of the Senate 
and take the chairmanship of the Committee on Territories. He 
boasted in Atchison, Kansas, that he was the leader in that repeal; 
that the Senator from Illinois took time to consider his proposition, 
and consented to bring in a repealing bill. The Senator from 
Illinois followed the lead of this great chieftain, whom the Ad- 
ministration and the border ruffians alike follow today; for he is 
their guide, their leader and their chieftain. That measure was 
carried through Congress; and then, before any man from New 
England entered Kansas, it was resolved by members of the Blue 
Lodges of Missouri, that they should be removed out of that 

"Mr. Douglas. The Senator from Massachusetts has re- 
ferred to that stale Abolition libel that Senator Atchison said he 
had given me twenty-four hours to say whether I would bring 
in the Nebraska bill, or resign to him the chairmanship of the 
Committee on Territories. That is a vile Abolition libel. Gen. 
Atchison has on more than one occasion denounced it as a libel. I 
thus brand it here as being without the shadow of a truth. You 
know, Mr. President [referring to Mr. Bright of Indiana in the 
Chair], that that bill was prepared before any Southern man ivas 
consulted', and that you, together with another northwestern Sena- 
tor, were the first who were consulted on the subject. Then, af- 
ter you had endorsed it, as I take pleasure in saying that you did, 
promptly and fearlessly, we consulted our Southern friends. 387 I 
trust, therefore, that I have put an end to that foul slander, in- 
vented for partisan and malicious purposes, and which has been 
repeated so often, and so widespread over the whole country. 

"The Senator from Georgia [Mr. Toombs] has been repre- 
sented as being the author of the bill, and the man who dragooned 
me into bringing forward that bill. The New York Evening 
Post, which the Senator from Massachusetts quotes with so much 

387 The italics are mine. 


admiration, has said a hundred times that 'Mr. Toombs of Geor- 
gia, was the man that stood over Mr. Douglas, and forced him 
to bring it in,' when the Senator from Georgia knows that, up to 
that time, he had never planted his foot in the Senate, and he did 
not arrive in the City until after the bill was prepared and intro- 

"Mr. Toombs. That is true. 

"Mr. Douglas. He was not here, and never set eyes on me 
nor I on him, nor exchanged a word with me, directly or indi- 
rectly, until the thing was done, and he came here to engage in 
fighting the great battle. So it is with these other things. I have 
failed to notice them before, for the reason that I had such a con- 
tempt for this system of making side-issues. Heretofore I have 
not noticed such charges; but when they are thrust in my face in 
the Senate, I feel it to be my duty to repel them, on the supposi- 
tion that they have acquired dignity enough by being repeated here 
to justify me in noticing them. I am not in the habit of noticing 
the many misrepresentations and assaults which are made on me. 
I am willing to trust my character and reputation on the result of 
the great principles involved, and upon the judgment that shall be 
pronounced on them when passion shall have passed away, and the 
sober reason of the country shall have returned. 

"Mr. Wilson. Mr. President, a few words in reply to the 
Senator from Illinois. He closes his remarks by assuring the Sen- 
ate that General Atchison never made the declaration attributed 
to him. That Atchison did make a speech at the town of Atchi- 
son, Kansas, in which he claimed in substance to be the author of 
the proposition for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, I do 
not entertain a doubt. / have conversed with gentlemen ivhose 
veracity I cannot question, who heard his speech on that occasion, 
and these gentlemen assure me that the published accounts of his 
speech are substantially correct. 387 The Parkville Luminary, pub- 
lished at that time in Missouri, stated that Atchison mounted an 
old wagon and made a speech. [Here follows the substance of 

the account as quoted above from the New York Tribune] 

The precise and exact words used in regard to the Senator from 
Illinois may not be as represented; but that Atchison claimed that 


honor, and claims it still, is well known by hundreds and thousands 
of men in the country. 387 

"Mr. Rusk (of Texas). Will the Senator allow me to cor- 
rect him in one declaration? 

"Mr. Wilson. Yes, Sir, most cheerfully. 

"Mr. Rusk. The Senator has made a declaration in regard 
to my colleague, which, in his absence, I desire to correct. He 
says that Gen. Atchison made a speech, in which he denounced 
my colleague. That is a mistake. There was a false or erroneous 
report in a newspaper purporting to be what Gen. Atchison had 
said, that did reflect on my colleague, and the Senator from Ten- 
nessee. General Atchison as soon as he saw the erroneous report 
of his speech, wrote a letter promptly correcting it, and stating 
what he did say, in which there was no denunciation of the Sen- 
ator from Tennessee (Mr. Bell) or of my colleague. I have 
known Gen. Atchison for a long time, and I am sure he would 
not state what was not true. He told me that he had made no 
such charges against them ; he had previously sent me a paper con- 
taining the correction of the errors in the false report of his 
speech, made by some one, no doubt, for the purpose of raising 
mischief " 

Here are two apparently contradictory state- 
ments regarding the authorship of the Repeal ; but 
the contradiction is more apparent than real. 

Senator Douglas was an adept in all the wiles 
and arts of the stump speaker, the rough and ready 
debater, and when he felt himself getting into deep 
water he did not hesitate to resort to quibbles. It is 
not impossible or difficult to regard this whole denial 
as partly a quibble and partly an evasion, and cer- 
tainly if there was any truth in Atchison's claim to 
authorship, there was a sufficient motive to induce 
Douglas to resort to this sort of tactics. 

In the first place, it is to be observed that in his 

387 The italics are mine. 


denial Douglas stigmatizes as a "stale abolition li- 
bel" not the entire story rehearsed by Senator Wil- 
son, but merely that portion of the story which refers 
to Atchison's peremptory demand and allowance of 
twenty-four hours. It is very improbable that Atch- 
ison presented the idea of the Repeal to Douglas in 
any such imperious and untactful manner. It is to- 
tally discordant with what we know of Atchison's 
tactics as a politician. Douglas's denial in this par- 
ticular goes merely to the form of Atchison's claim 
and leaves the substance wholly unchallenged. 

In the second place it is not impossible to re- 
gard Douglas's use of the word "Southern" as a quib- 
ble, when he declared that the bill was prepared 
"before any Southern man was consulted." It is 
safe to say that Missouri was spoken of as a south- 
ern, State and her Senators referred to as southern 
Senators in Congressional debates only when the sub- 
ject of slavery was under discussion. In all other 
connections, Missouri was regarded and mentioned 
as a western State. Atchison himself spoke of the 
Kansas-Nebraska bill as a "western measure," and 
as such it was expected that Missouri would profit by 
it. He even spoke of Missouri as a "Northwestern" 
State. 388 Benton was constantly referring to Mis- 
souri as a western State. It may be that Douglas 
purposely used the word "Southern" with the mental 
reservation that he would call Missouri a western 
State. If so, then there was no real denial of Atch- 
ison's claim, although the effect of a denial was pro- 
duced and intended, especially in the minds of free- 

388 Cong. Globe, xxxi, 301. 


soil Senators who probably thought of Missouri more 
often as a southern than a western State. 389 

Another trick of the wily debater is to get off 
from dangerous and on to firm ground as quickly as 
possible. One cannot fail to be impressed with the 
quickness with which Douglas passes from all direct 
reference to the Atchison story, a matter of the most 
serious importance to him, and therefore, if worth 
noticing at all, demanding a more complete refuta- 
tion than he gave it, to a point wholly unconnected 
with anything that Senator Wilson had said, namely, 
to the allegation that Senator Toombs of Georgia, 
who was then present in the Senate, had "dragooned" 
him into bringing forward this bill. Upon a denial 
of this interference or intervention, Douglas could 
take stand and feel the ground firm beneath him, and 

389 Furthermore, Douglas may have stated the literal truth when he 
said that the bill was prepared before any Southern man was "consulted." 
The primary meaning of the word consult is "to apply to for direction or 
information, ask the advice of." (Standard Dictionary.) Now if Douglas 
used the word consult consciously in its primary sense, his statement 
probably was literally true, and produced, as he intended it should pro- 
duce, the effect of a denial of the Atchison story, whereas in fact it may 
have been no contradiction at all. There is little probability that Douglas 
did apply to Atchison for direction or information or advice before the 
bill was drafted, but that does not preclude the possibility and probability 
that Atchison first sought out Douglas and suggested that he introduce the 
repealing measure. 

Similarly, I regard Douglas's declaration of February 23, 1855, that 
the bill "was written by myself, at my own house, with no man present," 
as a quibble. (Cong. Globe, xxxi, 216.) Stenographers and private secre- 
taries were not common in those days, and Douglas may have done the 
clerical work himself. Douglas said nothing at that time which directly 
contradicts the Atchison story. Mrs. Stowe's account of her impressions of 
Mr. Douglas as a debater, written a few days after the denial of April 14, 
1856, is interesting in this connection and tends to support my interpreta- 
tion of these denials. Mrs. Stowe's impressions appeared in the New York 
Independent, May 1, 1856. Summarized in Rhodes's Hist, of U. S., ii, 128. 


at the same time detract attention from the real and 
most serious claim to authorship of the Repeal. 390 

390 Before we leave Atchison's direct assertions of authorship, the fol- 
lowing may be noted. In an Illustrated History of Missouri (-St. Louis and 
Cincinnati, 1876), 466, of which Walter B. Davis and Daniel S. Durrie 
were the authors, is found the following statement in the course of a brief 
biographical sketch of Senator Atchison: 

"Mr. Atchison became specially prominent in the legislation for the 
organization of the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska, and claims to have 
originated the clause in the bill repealing the Missouri Compromise " 

In a History of Kansas (Lafayette, Ind., 1868) by John N. Holloway 
is to be found a brief but circumstantial account of the interest felt by the 
people of western Missouri in the repeal of the Compromise and an ac- 
count of Atchison's activity in the matter. 


Selected Bibliography 

i. manuscript materials 

Very little material for this book has been drawn 
from manuscript sources. I have made no small ef- 
fort to discover such material and my efforts have 
been efficiently supplemented by those of Professor 
Charles H. Hull of Cornell University. The results 
of our combined efforts have been almost wholly 
negative. But even such results are not without some 
value and perhaps should be summarized here. 

I have had access to the Garrison papers in the 
Boston Public Library, to the Sumner papers in the 
Library of Harvard University; and to the papers 
of President Pierce, until recently in the possession of 
his nephew, Hon. Kirk D. Pierce of Hillsboro, N. H., 
since transferred to the Library of Congress. Such 
of the Pierce papers as are of historical value have 
been printed in the American Historical Review. In 
none of these collections was any material found 
bearing upon the origin of the Repeal. Access has 
also been had to the Chase Correspondence in the Li- 
brary of Congress, since published by the American 
Historical Association; but very little was found of 
value in this investigation. The same is true of the 
papers of Colonel John A. Parker of Virginia. 

An extensive correspondence has failed to bring 


to light any unpublished papers of Senator Douglas, 
Senator Bright of Indiana, Senator Hunter of Vir- 
ginia, Senator Dodge of Iowa, Senator Geyer of Mis- 
souri, Colonel Benton, James S. Green of Missouri, 
and Senator Atchison. Regarding the papers of 
Senator Atchison, it is stated in The History 
of Clinton County, Missouri (St. Joseph, Mo., 
1881) that Senator Atchison's "valuable library 
and collection of manuscripts" was totally de- 
stroyed by the fire, February 2, 1870, which de- 
stroyed his residence. "The General in speaking of 
his loss, seemed less to regret the loss of his spacious 
mansion than the burning of his extensive library and 
valuable records of his opinions and observations 
during the long period of his service in the Senate of 
the United States." (Pt. ii, 182.) 

Mr. William E. Connelley of Topeka, Kansas, 
an acknowledged authority on early Kansas history, 
informs me that "Atchison wrote a history of the Re- 
peal of the Missouri Compromise and the Troubles 
in Kansas. He wrote it after he returned from Tex- 
as, where he was during the Civil War. This work, 
in manuscript, was destroyed by the accidental burn- 
ing of the residence of General Atchison shortly be- 
fore his death." 

Papers of Governor Trusten Polk and Francis 
P. Blair, Jr., both of Missouri, are known to be in 
existence; but I have been unable to ascertain the 
nature of their contents. 

Burgess, J. W. The Middle Period, 18 17-1858. New York, 


Holst, H. E. von. Constitutional and Political History of the 
United States. Translated by John J. Lalor, and others. 8 
vols. Chicago, 1877-92. 

Rhodes, J. F. History of the United States from the Com- 
promise of 1850. 7 vols. New York, 1 893-1906. 

Schouler, James. History of the United States of America 
under the Constitution. 6 vols. Revised edition, New York, 

Smith, Theodore C. Parties and Slavery, 1 850-1 859. New 
York, 1906. 
/ Wilson, Henry. History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave 
Power in America. 3 vols. Boston, 1872-77. 

Wilson, Woodrow. Division and Reunion. New York, 1901. 

. A History of the American People. 5 vols. New 

York, 1902. 


Carr, Lucien. Missouri, a Bone of Contention. Boston, 1888. 

The best history of Missouri. The treatment, however, of Missouri 

politics between 1844 and 1854 is too summary to be of the greatest 

value. Chapters 10 and 11 on the annexation of Texas and the 

Jackson Resolutions are the most useful. 

Clay and Platte Counties, Missouri; History of. Anony- 
mous. St. Louis, 1885.^ 

Gives the Jackson Resolutions, and Benton's "Appeal" letter of 
May 9, 1849. Otherwise of no value. 391 

Davis, Walter B. and Daniel S. Durrie. An Illustrated 
History of Missouri. St. Louis and Cincinnati, 1876. 
Of value solely for the brief sketch of Senator Atchison. 
Greene County, Missouri; History of. Anonymous. St. 
Louis, 1883. 

Gives the Jackson , Resolutions, and a brief account of Benton's 
Springfield speech. Otherwise of little value. 

Goodspeed, Weston A. Editor-in-Chief. The Provinces and 
the States. A History of the Province of Louisiana under 
France, and Spain, and of the Territories and States of the 

391 For the purposes of this work is, of course, to be understood in all 
these comments. 


United States formed therefrom. 7 vols. Madison, Wis., 

Volume 4, edited by C. M. Harvey, deals briefly with Missouri 
politics, 1844-1S54. 

Holloway, John N. History of Kansas from the First Ex- 
ploration of the Mississippi Valley to its Admission into the 
Union. Lafayette, Ind., 1868. 

Contains a little contemporary evidence that Senator Atchison was 
the originator of the Repeal, and describes conditions in western Mis- 
souri at the time of the Repeal. 

Morton, J. S. The Illustrated History of Nebraska. Lincoln, 

H. D. Johnson's claim that economic considerations determined the 
creation of two Territories is accepted and elaborated. 

Phillips, William. The Conquest of Kansas by Missouri and 
her Allies. Boston, 1856. 

Gives interesting sidelights on conditions in western Missouri and 
Kansas. The author was the special correspondent of the New York 

Paxton, William M. Annals of Platte County, Missouri. 
Kansas City, Mo., 1897. 

Platte County lay on the northwestern border of the State and was 
one of the pro-slavery strongholds. The great diligence of the author 
has brought together in this volume a vast amount of information upon 
a great variety of subjects of local interest. 

Spring, Leverett W. Kansas. Boston, 1885. 

Excellent on the later history of Kansas, but quite inadequate in 
dealing with the genesis of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. 

Switzler, W. F. and others. Switzler's Illustrated History of 
Missouri. St. Louis, 1879. 

Colonel Switzler's knowledge of Missouri history was encyclopedic. 
He was a Whig, and active in politics at the time of Benton's "Ap- 
peal." His work contains much that is valuable for these years but 
on the campaign of 1853 Jt ' s surprisingly meager. 

Viles, Jonas S. The Story of the State. [In a volume entitled 
The State of Missouri: An Autobiography, edited by Walter 
Williams]. Columbia, Mo., 1904- 

An excellent, though necessarily brief, summary of the political 
history of Missouri. 



Brown, William Garrot. Stephen Arnold Douglas. Boston, 

A very brief but excellent sketch of Douglas's public life. 
Flint, H. M. Life of Stephen A. Douglas. By a Member of 
the Western Bar. New York, i860. 

A campaign biography with the usual infirmities of that class of 
works. Of very little value. 

Harding, S. B. Life of George R. Smith, Founder of Sedalia, 
Missouri. Sedalia, Mo., 1 904. 

Gives an account of the last few ballots when Geyer was elected 
to succeed Benton in the Senate in 1851, found in a letter written by 
a member of the Legislature. 
Johnson, Allen. Stephen A. Douglas: A Study in American 
Politics. New York, 1 908. 

This is the best biography of Douglas, and in most respects is an ad- 
mirable work. The discussion, however, of Douglas's connection with 
the Repeal is regrettably inadequate. Except for Douglas's letter of 
November 11, 1853, to Walker and Lanphier, the work contributes 
very little to our knowledge of this important episode in Douglas's 
Meigs, W. M. Life of Thomas Hart Benton. Philadelphia, 

The best biography of Benton. Contains much valuable matter 
relating to Benton's retirement from the Senate. 
Roosevelt, Theodore. Thomas Hart Benton. Boston, 1887. 

Of very slight value. 
Rogers, Joseph M. Thomas H. Benton. Philadelphia. 

A very readable biography. Of more value as a character sketch 
than as a contribution to political history. 
Sheahan, J. W. Life of Stephen A. Douglas. New York, i860. 
Another campaign biography of very little value. 


Abel, Miss A. H. Indian Reservations in Kansas and the Ex- 
tinguishment of their Title. In Kansas Historical Society's 
Transactions, \m. (1903-04). 

Of value in connection with the Benton-Atchison controversy over 
the legality of immediate settlement in Nebraska Territory. 


American Historical Association; Annual Report. 1899, 
1902, 1906. 

Vol. ii (1899), containing the Correspondence of John C. Calhoun, 
contains a few important letters referring to Missouri politics in 1849. 
Vol. ii (1902), the Correspondence of Salmon P. Chase, contains a few 
allusions to Missouri politics. Vol. i (1906), contains Miss Abel's 
Winsor Prize Essay, "The History of Indian Consolidation West of 
the Mississippi." 
Calhoun, John C. Correspondence of. In the American His- 
torical Association's Report for 1899, Vol. ii. 
Connelley, William E. The First Provisional Constitution 
of Kansas. In Kansas Historical Society's Transactions, vi. 
1 897- 1 900. 

An earlier study afterwards elaborated into the author's Provisional 
Government of Nebraska. 
. Provisional Government of Nebraska and the Jour- 
nal of William Walker, Provisional Governor of Nebraska 
Territory. Special Publication of the Nebraska State Histor- 
ical Society's Transactions and Reports, Series II, Vol. iii. 1899. 
A most important source for facts and documents relating to the 
Wyandott connection with the Nebraska territorial movement. 
Haskell, J. G. The Passing of Slavery in Western Missouri. 
In Kansas Historical Society's Transactions, vii. 1901-02. 

Throws some light on slavery in western Missouri in the period 
covered by this investigation. 
Hinton, R. J. The Nationalization of Freedom and the His- 
torical Place of Kansas therein. In Kansas Historical Society's 
Transactions, vi. 1897-1900. 
Johnson, Hadley D. How the Kansas-Nebraska Boundary 
Line was Established. In Nebraska State Historical Society's 
Transactions and Reports, ii. 1887. 

An important contribution indicating that economic considerations 
rather than slavery interests determined the organization of two Terri- 
tories in 1854. 

Kansas State Historical Society; Transactions of. Vol. vi 
(1897- 1 900), vol. vii (1901-02), vol. viii (1903-04), vol. ix 

Merwin, R. E. History of the Wyandott Indians. In Kansas 
Historical Society's Transactions, ix. 1 905-06. 


Missouri State Historical Society; Proceedings of. 1903. 

Short sketches of Benton and Blair occur in this volume. 

Nebraska State Historical Society; Transactions and Reports 

of. Vol. ii. 1887. 

Taft, William H. The Kansas-Nebraska Bill and Decoration 

Day. In Kansas Historical Society's Transactions, ix. 1905-06. 

A Memorial Day address, to which are appended footnotes by 

George W. Martin. The footnotes include excerpts from a number 

of newspapers, 1853-56, which are of value for their bearing upon 

Atchison's connection with the Repeal. 

Congressional Directory. 30th Congress (1847-49), 31st 

Congress (1849-51), 32d Congress (1851-53), 33d Congress 

Congressional Globe. 

Second session, 28th Congress (cited, xiv). 

First session, 30th Congress (cited, xviii). 

Second session, 30th Congress (cited, xx). 

First session, 31st Congress (cited xxi). 

Second session, 31st Congress (cited, xxiii). 

First session, 32d Congress (cited xxiv). 

Second session, 32d Congress (cited, xxvi, xxvii). 

First session, 33d Congress (cited, xxviii, xxix). 

Second session, 33d Congress (cited, xxxi). 

First session, 34th Congress. 
Congressional Record. 3d session, 55th Congress, vol. xxxii, 

Pt. iii. Remarks of Hon. Champ Clark on Francis P. Blair, 

Jr., and Remarks of Hon. A. M. Dockery, quoting Judge 

James H. Birch, a contemporary of Benton. 
House Executive Documents: 

Second session, 28th Congress, vol. i. 

First Session, 33d Congress, vol. i, no. 1. 
House Journal: 

First session, 30th Congress. 

First session, 31st Congress. 

Second session, 32d Congress. 

First session, 33d Congress. 


First session, 34th Congress. 

House Reports: 

First session, 54th Congress, vol. iii, nos. 200, 257. 
Second session, 37th Congress, no. 67. 

Kansas Report. Report of the Special Committee appointed to 
investigate the Troubles in Kansas with the Views of the 
Minority. Washington, 1856. House Reports, 1st session, 
34th Congress, vol. iii, no. 200. 

Manypbnny, Colonel George W. [Commissioner of Indian 
Affairs] Report, November 9, 1853, of his visit to Indians west 
of Missouri and Iowa; Report of November 26, 1853, on the 
general subject of Indian Relations. House Executive Docu- 
ments, 1 st session, 33d Congress, vol. i, no. 1. 

Missouri: Laws of the State of. Passed at the First Session of 
the Fourteenth General Assembly, November 16, 1846-Feb- 
ruary lb, 1847. 

Missouri; Laws of the State of. Passed at the Session of the 
Fifteenth General Assembly, December 25, 1848-March 12, 


Missouri House Journal; 1840-47, 1848-49. 1850-51, 1852-53- 

Missouri Senate Journal; 1846-47. 1848-49, 1850-51, 1852-53- 

Poore, Benjamin Perley. The Federal and State Constitu- 
tions, Colonial Charters and other Organic Laws of the United 
States. Second edition. 2 vols. Washington, 1878. 

Richardson, J. D. Compilation of the Messages and Papers of 
the Presidents (1789-1897)- 10 vols. Washington, 1896-99- 

Senate Journal: 

Second session, 28th Congress. 
First session, 30th Congre-<. 
First session, 31st Congress. 
First session, 32d Congress. 
Second session, 32d Congress. 
First session, 33d Congress. 

Senate Reports; 1st session, 33d Congress, vol. i, no. 15. 

Wilkins, William. Report of Secretary of War, November 
30, 1844. House Executive Documents, 2d session, 28th Con- 
gress, vol. i. 



A Statement of Facts and a few Suggestions in Review of 
Political Action in Missouri demonstrating the Right of Ad- 
mission to the Democratic National Convention of the Dele- 
gates of the Democratic Party of the State whose Names are 
appended hereto, to the Exclusion of their Contestants. 1856. 
[n. p.] 

This is the case of the anti-Benton faction in the Missouri Democ- 
racy before the Cincinnati Convention, 1856, protesting against the 
seating of the Benton delegation. It contains a good deal of material 
bearing upon the dissensions in Missouri after Benton's "Appeal." 

Benton, Thomas H. Speech at the Capitol at Jefferson City-, 
May 26, 1849. St. Louis, 1849. 

This and the speech at Fayette are among the best examples of 
Benton's peculiar style of stump speaking. 
. Speech at Fayette, Howard County, Missouri, on Satur- 
day, September 1, 1849. Jefferson City, Mo., 1849. 
Bowlin, James B. Circular to his Constituents, the Voters 
of the First Congressional District, in Missouri. Washington, 
D. C, 1850. 

Illustrates the confusion wrought in Missouri politics by Benton's 
Douglas, Stephen A. Remarks by Mr. Douglas of Illinois 
upon the Resolutions declaring the Compromise Measures to be 
a Definitive Adjustment of all Questions growing out of Do- 
mestic Slavery. Delivered in the Senate of the United States, 
December 23, 185 1. Washington, 1851. 
. Speech of Senator Douglas at a Public Dinner, in Chi- 
cago, November 9, 1854. Washington, 1855. 
Green, James S. of Missouri. Letter to Messrs. John S. Farish, 
John W. Minor, Thomas Roberts, Wesley Burks, and others, 
Citizens of Schuyler County, Missouri, [n. p., n. d.] 

This letter constitutes perhaps the ablest reply to Benton's "Appeal" 
and Jefferson City speech. It is a clear and full presentation of the 
case of the Anti-Bentonites in 1849. 
Parker, Col. John A. of Virginia. W T hat Led to the War, or 
the Secret History of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, with an Intro- 
ductory Note by Waldorf H. Phillips of New York. New 
York, 1880, and Washington, 1886. 


Reprinted from the National Quarterly Review, July, 1880. An 

important piece of corroborative evidence of the Missouri origin and 
Atchison authorship of the Repeal. 
Starr. Rev. Frederick.. Letters for the People on the Present 
Crisis. [Signed] "Lynceus" [pseud.]. [New York, 1853.] 
This pamphlet reflects the views of a northern anti-slavery clergy- 
man, residing in Missouri, concerning the economic and political con- 
ditions of Missouri as affected by the institution of slavery. The 
letters were published anonymously, but the copy in the Harvard 
University Library contains a manuscript letter revealing the identity 
of the author and relating some interesting facts about the indignation 
which the appearance of these letters caused in Missouri. 


Benton, Thomas H. Thirty Years' View, 1S20-1850. 2 vols. 
New York, 1S54-56. 

Benton's attack upon Calhoun over the Texas annexation question 

is to be found here, but one looks in vain for anything bearing upon 

his retirement from the Senate or struggle for restoration. On the 

whole it is of very slight value. 

Cutts, James M. A Brief Treatise upon Constitutional and 

Party Questions and the History of Political Parties. New 

York. 1866. 

Of almost no value. 
Dixon, Mrs. Archibald. The True History of the Missouri 
Compromise and its Repeal. Cincinnati, 1899. 

Far from being a "true" history of the Repeal, it is incomplete, 
biased and in other respects unreliable. Of interest mainly for the 
part taken by Senator Dixon in the Repeal. 


Fagg, J. C. Thomas Hart Benton: The Great Missourian and 

his Times reviewed. Missouri Historical Review, I (Oct.). 
Harvey, Charles M. Missouri from 184.9 to 1861. Missouri 
Historical Raicii-, II (Oct.). 

Comments briefly upon Missouri politics, 1S49-54. 
Johnson, Allen. Douglas and Popular Sovereignty. Iowa 

Journal of History and Politics, Jan. and July, 1905. 
Webster, Sydney. The Responsibility for Secession. Political 
Science Quarterly, VIII. 


The writer, who was the private secretary of President Pierce, 
contends that the Repeal was wholly legislative in its origin, and 
endeavors to free the Executive from responsibility. 


Albany [N. Y.] Argus, 1 853-1 854. 

Baltimore [Md.] Sun, 1853-1854. 

Boston* [Mass.] Atlas, 1853. 

Boston [Mass.] Journal, 1853. 

Charleston [S. C] Courier, 1 853-1 854. 

Cincinnati [Ohio] Inquirer, 1854. 

Independent, The [New York], 1856. 

Iowa Republican [Iowa City], 1853. 

Iowa State Gazette [Burlington], 1853. 

Jefferson [Mo.] Examiner, 1853. 

Jefferson [Mo.] Inquirer, 1853. 

Mississippian and State Gazette [Jackson, Miss.], 1853- 1854. 

Missouri Republican [St. Louis], 1853-1854. 

Missouri Sentinel [Columbia], 1853. 

National Intelligencer [Washington, D. C], 1853-1854. 

New York [N. Y.] Evening Post, 1853. 

New York [N. Y.] Herald, 1 853-1 854. 

New York [N. Y.] Journal of Commerce, 1853-1854. 

New York [N. Y.] Times, 1856. 

New York [N. Y.] Tribune, 1 853-1 854. 

Niles's National Register [Baltimore, Md.], vols. LXYI, 

LXYII ( 1 844-45), LXXII (1847), LXXV (1849). 
Platte [City, Mo.] Argus, The Weekly, 1852. 
Richmond [Va.] Enquirer, 1853-1854. 
St. Louis [Mo.] Intelligencer, 1850. 
Washington [D. C] Union, 1 853-1 854. 
Weekly Democratic Press [Chicago, 111.], 1854-1856. 
Western Eagle [Cape Girardeau, Mo.], 1 849-1 851. 

Newspapers have been an invaluable source in the preparation of 
this book. The Missouri newspapers and the Washington correspondence 
of the great eastern papers have been of most value. 




Adams, Senator Stephen: 94. 

Administration: attitude toward 
Benton, 79 note 100, no, in note 
155; toward Repeal, 212, 213 ff, 
256 ff. 

Albany Argus: editorial quoted, 191- 
193 and interpretation of, by N. Y. 
Evening Post, 192. 

Andrew County (Mo.) : Nebraska 
meeting in, 164 ff. 

Anti-Benton: faction in Missouri 
Democracy, 27, 30, 31, 34, 35, 36, 
38, 50, 64-65, 67, 71, 112; press 
in Missouri, 51 note 54, in; 
resolutions, 38, 51 note 54, 64-65. 
See also Atchison, Benton, Cal- 
houn, Douglas, Green, Jackson 
Resolutions, Letters, Missouri Pol- 
itics, Missouri Legislature, and 
Price, W. C. 

Appeal: Benton's, to the People of 
Missouri, 41 ff, 50; effect of, 58- 
59. Of the Independent Demo- 
crats in Congress, 17. See also 
Atchison, Benton, Calhoun, Green, 
Jackson Resolutions, Letters, and 
Missouri Politics. 

Appendix: 235 ff. 

Armstrong, Rev. J. M. : 85 note 107, 

Atchison, David R. : his political ex- 
tremity in 1854, 22, 131 ff, 141, 
202; claims credit for the Repeal, 
22, 23, 233, 276 ff, 288 note 390; 
desires chairmanship of Commit- 

tee on Territories, 22, 201, 277 ff; 
interview with Douglas, 22, 201, 
204; speech at Atchison (Kansas), 
22, 276 ff; speech at Platte City 
(Mo.), 23, 79 note 100, 281; the 
antithesis of Benton, 28, 217; 
reelection contested by Benton, 28 ; 
position on Texas question, 32 note 
27 ; on conspiracy against Ben- 
ton, 34 note 30; position on slav- 
ery endorsed, 48 note 48 ; position 
on Wilmot Proviso, 52 note 55, 
108, 113; mentioned in Liberty 
resolutions, 51 note 54; mentioned 
in Klippel's letter, 59; speaks in 
St. Joseph (Mo.), 59 note 66; at- 
titude toward Pacific Railroad, 77 
ff, 260 note 357; interest in Mis- 
souri railroads, 77; speeches at 
Weston, Parkville and Fayette 
(Mo.), 74 note 91, 77, 79 note 100, 
123, 228, 255 ff, 257; interviews 
with Guthrie, 88, 135; opposes 
Wyandott territorial movement, 
88 ; presents Missouri memorial 
on Nebraska, 97; presents Park- 
ville resolutions, 99; on Missouri's 
interest in Nebraska, 101, 102 ff, 
136; attitude toward Missouri 
Compromise, 104, 108, 113, 135 ff, 
216 note 303; change of attitude 
on Nebraska question, 102 ff, 112 
ff, 116, 133, 134 ff, 136; charged 
with inconsistency by Jefferson 
Inquirer, 112 ff, 133; his political 



"stamping-ground," 115; his anti- 
Benton letter of 1849, quoted, 112; 
opinion on legality of "immediate" 
settlement, 119, 123 ff; reply to 
Benton's Cole & Monroe County 
letters, 123 ff; comment of St. 
Louis Evening News, 123 ; writes 
to Secretary of the Interior, 124; 
Manypenny's letter, 126 ff; views 
and pledges concerning Slavery in 
Nebraska, 23, 135 ff, 141, 170 note 
238, 198, 205, 221, 228, 255 ff, 281 ; 
relations with Manypenny, 156; 
letter to Missouri Examiner, 156 
note 221 ; speech mentioned by 
N. Y. Independent, 170 note 238 ; 
relations, with Douglas, 201-202, 
221, 277 ff and with the Pierce 
Administration, 212-214, 277 ff; 
inconspicuous part in Kansas-Ne- 
braska debate, 215 ff and Clayton 
amendment, 215 ff; relation of the 
Repeal to his contest with Benton, 
220 ff; resolutions of Platte City 
meeting, 226 note 319; letter re- 
viewing campaign of 1853-54, 22 6 
ff, 253 ff; the author of the Re- 
peal, 229-230, 232, 272 ff; resig- 
nation as President pro tempore, 
278 ; Henry Wilson comment up- 
on, 282 ff. 

Comments on: St. Joseph Ga- 
zette, 139; Jefferson Inquirer, 140; 
Ioiva State Gazette, 179; Boston 
Atlas, 180; N. Y. Evening Post, 
181, 192; N. Y. Journal of Com- 
merce, 182; Richmond Enquirer, 
189, 198 ; Missouri Republican, 
199; Baltimore Sun, 204 ff, 221; 
Charleston Courier, 205. 

Atchison (Kans.): Atchison's speech 
at, 22, 233, 277 ff. 

Atherton, George W. : letter of, 
quoted, 274 note 374. 

Authorship of the Repeal: 228, 229, 
230, 233, 277 ff, 287. 

Badger, Senator G. E. : 218. 

Baker, John: speech quoted, 280 note 

Baltimore Platforms: 15, 65, 139, 

Baltimore Sun: quoted, 204 ff, 220. 

Barrett, J. Amos: his and A. E. 
Sheldon's new explanation of 
Douglas's motives, 19 note 8, 238 

Bell, Senator John: 279, 281. 

Benjamin, Senator J. P.: 34, 248, 

Bennett, H. P.: 177. 

Benton, Thomas H. : the antithesis 
of Atchison, 28, 217; retirement 
from Senate, 28-29, 30 note 20, 
35; desires to succeed Atchison, 
28; his political extremity in 1854, 
28-29, 222 ff ; hostility to Calhoun, 
2 7» 2 9, 39 ff> 4 2 ff> 47! attitude 
of Calhoun, 30-32, 43 ff; last 
election to Senate, 33; the anti- 
Benton party in Mo., 33-34; his 
political absolutism, 34; opposi- 
tion of Judge Price, 35, 248 ff; 
spurns Repeal proposal, 35, 248; 
assails the Jackson resolutions, 39 
ff; his "Appeal to the People of 
Missouri," 41 ; his canvass of the 
state, 1849, 48 ff, 49 note 49, 58; 
effect of, 50; his position on Slav- 
ery assailed by Green, 53 ff; his 
violent language, 56, 57, 58, 68- 
69; organizes a separate faction, 
56 note 62 ; lack of interest in In- 
ternal Improvements, 61 note 73 ; 
overconfident in campaign of 
1850, 62; letter opposing union 
with Calhounites, 62-63; attitude 
toward Whigs, 63, 68, 69; inter- 
pretation of election of 1850, 64 



note 77 ; effect of his defeat, 66- 
67 ; reorganizes his "bolt," 67 ; 
opposes factional reconciliation, 
1852, 67; denounces State Con- 
vention, 68 ; his election as Rep- 
resentative, 68-69 '■> letter to Boon- 
ville Observer, 69 note 86; pro- 
ject for Central Highway, 72 ff, 
76; his project ridiculed by Atch- 
ison, 74 note 91 ; Cole County let- 
ter, 76, 116 ff, 255; misrepresents 
Atchison, 77, 79 ff, 135; relations 
with Pierce's Administration, 79 
note 100, no, in note 155, and 
slavery agitation among Wyan- 
dotts, 85 note 107, 251; relations 
with Guthrie, 85 note 107, 89 note 
117; favors Wyandott territorial 
movement, 89, 144; candidacy for 
Senate, 1853, 109 ff; newspapers 
supporting, in; visits western 
counties, 112-115; his aggressive 
tactics, 115 ff; advocates "imme- 
diate" occupation of Nebraska, 
115 ff, 162 note 228; lack of in- 
terest in Nebraska, 115, 136; 
forces Atchison to act on the de- 
fensive, 116, 131; letter to Mix, 
120; Manypenny's letter, 120; 
letter to citizens ofi Monroe 
County, 121, and the Freesoilers, 
79 note 100, 254 ff; on Indian 
titles in Nebraska, 116 ff, 121 ff; 
his map of Nebraska, 120 ff ; effect 
of his Nebraska agitation, 130- 
131, 159, 162 note 228; mentioned 
in Wyandott resolutions, 145-146; 
endorsed by Andrew County meet- 
ing, 165 note 232; effect of Repeal 
upon his senatorial prospects, 220 
ff, 224; his dilemma in 1854, 222 
ff; opposes Kansas-Nebraska bill, 
224 ff ; defeated for the Senate, 
225-226; gubernatorial campaign 
of 1856, 226; his position re- 

viewed by Atchison, 253 ff; men- 
tioned in Parker's pamphlet, 271 

Comments on: Iowa State Ga- 
zette, 179 ; Richmond Enquirer, 
198; Missouri Republican, 199. 

Speeches: at Jefferson City 
(Mo.), 30 note 21, 31, 32, 40, 42; 
at Liberty (Mo.), 51 note 54; at 
Fayette (Mo.), 42 note 41; at 
Platte City, 49 note 50; at St. 
Louis, 50 note 52, 62 note 74; at 
St. Joseph, 58 ; at Jackson, Cape 
Girardeau County (Mo.), 75-76; 
at Kansas City (Mo.), 117 note 
164, 253 ff; at Westport, 253, 255; 
at Weston, 117 note 164; at Inde- 
pendence, 117 note 164, 253 ff. 

Benton's Map of Nebraska: Benton's 
note to Mix, 120; Manypenny to 
Benton, 120; Atchison on, 123 ff; 
condemned by Manypenny, 128 ; 
endorsed by Andrew County meet- 
ing, 166 note 232. 

Bibliography: 290 ff. 

Birch, Judge James H.: 38 note 34, 
46, 49 note 50, 51 note 54, 58. 

Bissell, W. H.: 88. 

Blaine, James G. : Twenty Years of 
Congress, quoted, 52 note 55. 

Blair, Francis P., Jr.: 67 note 83, 
85 note 107, 173, 251, 260, 290; 
speech quoted, 229 ff; letter quot- 
ed, 202 note 283, 231 note 324. 

Bogy, Col. Louis B.: 68. 

Boston Atlas: quoted, 167 note 233, 

Boston Journal: quoted, 177 note 250. 

Boy, W. V. N.: 173, 260. 

Bradford, Hon. A. A.: 177. 

Breckinridge, John C. : 34, 213, 214, 

Bright, Senator Jesse D. : 214, 284. 

Brown, Aaron V.: 98 note 129. 



Brown, B. Gratz: 85 note 107, 173, 

251, 260. 
Burgess, Prof. J. W.: on Douglas's 

motives, 17. 
Butler, Senator A. P.: 231. 

Cabinet: of President Pierce, 2x2- 
213, 273. 

Calhoun, Andrew Pickens: letter of 
John C. Calhoun to, quoted, 44 
note 45. 

Calhoun, John C: 29, 34; hostility 
to Benton, 30-32, 43 ff, and the 
annexation of Texas, 30, 31, 32 
note 28, 35; his Senate resolutions 
of Feb., 1847, 42, 47; connection 
with Jackson resolutions, 42 ff; 
correspondence quoted, 44 note 45, 
59 note 65 ; reply to Benton, 30 
note 21, 44 note 45 ; influence upon 
Atchison, Hunter, Mason, and 
Butler, 230 ff. 

Calhounites: in Missouri, 62-63. 

Cape Girardeau County: Benton's 
speech in, 75-76. 

Caruthers, Samuel: 263. 

Cass, Senator Lewis: 218. 

Cass-Nicholson Letter: 172. 

Central National Highway: Ben- 
ton's project for the, 72 ff, 76. 

Charleston Courier: quoted, 205. 

Chase, Salmon P.: letter of Klippel 
to, 57 ff; proposed route for Pa- 
cific Railroad, 80; letter to E. S. 
Hamlin, quoted, 158 note 224. 

Clark, G. I.: 147. 

Clark, Dr. Monson H.: 176. 

Clay, Henry: 31, 136. 

Clayton Amendment: to Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill, 215 ff. 

Clemson, Thomas G. : Calhoun's let- 
ter to, quoted, 59, note 65. 

Cole County: Benton's letter to cit- 
izens of, 76, 116 ff, 256. 

Commissioner of Indian Affairs. See 

Committee on Territories: Senate, 
Thirty-third Congress, 195 note 
272, 199, 200 ff, 203, 204, 205 ff, 

Compromise of 1850: 15, 186; estab- 
lishing a precedent, 21, 190 ff; en- 
dorsed by Mo. Democratic Con- 
vention, 67 ; extreme Southern in- 
terpretation of, 93 note 125; 188 
ff, 190 ff; comment of St. Louis 
Intelligencer, 192 note 268 ; Atch- 
ison's attitude on Slavery in Ne- 
braska, 139-140; endorsed by St. 
Joseph meeting, 168. 

Comments: of Charleston Cou- 
rier, 205 ; of Missouri Republican, 

Discussed: by Richmond En- 
quirer, 188 ff; by the Mississip- 
pian, 190; by Albany Argus, 191 
ff; in report of Jan. 4, 1854, 205 

Congress: Nebraska question in 
Thirty-third, anticipated, 178 ff, 
183; Missouri senatorial fight 
transferred to, 29, 141, 195 ff, 198, 
199, 205, 215 note 303, 220 ff, 227, 
256 ff. 

Congressional Globe: inadequate as 
a source, 16, 24, 196 ff, 215. 

Connelley, Wm. E.: 33 note 29, 34 
note 30, 36 note 32, 86 note 108, 
89 note 117, 148 note 207, 243 ff. 

Council Bluffs (Iowa): 80, 176, 177. 

Curtis, Col. Samuel H.: 177. 

Cutts, J. M. : Treatise upon Consti- 
tutional and Party Questions, 
quoted, 163 note 228. 

Davis Jefferson: 34, 248, 273. 
Dawes, H. L. : letter of Guthrie to, 

83 note 102, 91 note 124. 
Dews, I. M.: 177. 



Dixon, Senator Archibald: his 
amendment, 207, 211, 223, 273; 
letter to Foote, quoted, 210 note 
295, 211 note 297; friendly to 
Atchison, 273. 

Doctrine of Supersedure: 21, 187 ff, 
193 ff, 203, 209, 213, 217-218. 

Dodge, Senator A. C. : resolution by, 
99; introduces Nebraska bill, 100, 
195; remarks upon, quoted, 177 
note 251; favors two territories, 
208 note 292; at Council Bluffs, 

Douglas, Stephen A.: reputed author 
of the Repeal, 16; explanations of 
his motives, 16 ff, 237 ff; com- 
mitted to the Missouri Compro- 
mise, 20-21 ; resolution not to 
speak on Slavery, 21 ; charges of 
inconsistency against, 21 ; denial 
of Atchison's claim, 23, 282 ff; 
indifference to Nebraska, 19, 83 
note 103, 94 ff, 98 ; his Nebraska 
bills, 95 ff; unconnected with Ne- 
braska movement in 1853, 183 ff; 
European trip, 184; letter to Lan- 
phier and Walker, 1S3 ff; its sig- 
nificance, 185 ; and the doctrine of 
Supersedure, 187 ff ; report of Jan. 
4, 1854, 187, 205 ff, 209 ff; com- 
pelled to act on the Nebraska 
question, 200; speech at 111. State 
Agricultural Fair, 200; relations 
with Atchison, 201-202, 221, 277 
ff; attitude toward Benton, 202, 
221; aids anti-Benton faction in 
Mo., 202 note 283 ; reports Kan- 
sas-Nebraska bill, 207 ff; and the 
creation of two Territories, 208 
note 292 ; and the Pierce Admin- 
istration, 184 ff, 212 ff, 214; In- 
terest in Pacific R. R., 184 ff, 237 
ff; his quibbling, 285 ff. 

Downs, H. P.: 176. 

Dusenbury, H.: 173, 260. 

Easton, L. J.: 167. 

Emigration: through Nebraska, 72, 

76, 82 note 102, 83 note 103, 170 
note 237; to Nebraska, 130-131, 
!59i J 63 note 228. 

English, W. G.: 177. 
Epithets: 58. 

"Fairfax": Washington correspond- 
ent of the Richmond Enquirer, 
197, 198, 268. 

Faulkner, Charles J.: 273 note 374. 

Fayette (Mo.) : Atchison's speech at, 

77, 123, 132 note 183, 134; Ben- 
ton's speech at, 42 note 41. 

Forney, John W. : 268. 

Fremont, John C. : explorations, 80. 

Geyer, Henry S.: 249, 263; elected 
to the Senate to succeed Benton, 
66; and A. Guthrie, 88; opposes 
Wyandott territorial movement, 
88 ; opposition to Nebraska bill in 
Thirty-second Congress, 114. 

Giddings, Joshua R. : colloquy with 
Howe in the House, 93. 

Glenwood (Iowa) : 176. 

Goodspeed, Weston Arthur: Prov- 
inces and States, quoted, 27, 5a 
note 55. 

Green, James S.: Blaine's comment 
upon, 52 note 55 ; reply to Ben- 
ton's Appeal, 52 ff ; succeeds Atch- 
ison in Senate, 226 note 318. 

Greenwood, Judge: 177. 

Guthrie, Abelard: letters to H. L. 
Dawes, 83 note 102, 91 note 124; 
opposed to Slavery, 85 note 107; 
relations with Benton, 85 note 107, 
250-251; letter to Washburn, 87 
note 109 ; elected Delegate to Con- 
gress, 87; renominated to Con- 
gress, 147, 148 note 207 ; defeated 
for Congress, 151 ff, 153 note 215; 
interview with Atchison, 88, 135; 

3 o8 


letters to Wm. Walker, 88, 90; re- 
fused a seat by the House, 91 ; his 
memorials, 92; Mayall's comment 
on, 107 ; remarks in Wyandott 
convention, 146; attacks Many- 
penny, 152, 153 note 215; on the 
establishment of provisional gov- 
ernment, 153 note 215; letter to 
X. Y. Tribune, 153 note 215. 
Gwin, Senator W. M. : 80, 199 note 

Hall, Willard P.: opposed to Ben- 
ton, 58 ; his Nebraska territorial 
bills, 81 note 101, 90, 92, 99, 165, 
168; mentioned in Wyandott res- 
olutions, 145-146 ; remarks in 
Thirty-second Congress quoted, 
241 ff. 

Hamilton, Rev. Wm. : 176. 

Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad: 
77, 101. 

Hemp-raising: 115 note 162, 271. 

Henn, Bernhart: 176, 177 note 251. 

Hepner, George: 177. 

Holden, N. B.: 97 note 132. 

Holley, C. F. : Benton's letter to, 117 
note 164; reports resolutions at 
Andrew County meeting, 164; ad- 
dresses St. Joseph meeting, 167 ff. 

Hoist, H. E. von: on Douglas's mo- 
tives, 16. 

House of Representatives: vote ana- 
lyzed, 239 ff. 

Houston, G. S.: 92. 

Houston, Gen. Sam: 278, 280. 

Howe, T. M.: colloquy with Gidd- 
ings in the House, 93. 

Hughes, Roland: quoted, 34 note 30. 

Hunter, Senator Robert M. T. : 212, 

213, 214, 230 ff. 
Hutawa, Jules: 128. 

Illinois State Register: 184. 

Immediate: annexation of Texas, 30, 
31, 32 note 28; settlement of Ne- 
braska, 82, 115 ff, 119 ff, 123 ff, 
128-129, 130, 160, 163 note 228, 165 
note 232. See also Atchison, Ben- 
ton, Benton's Map of Nebraska, 
Indians, Letters, Manvpenny, and 

Independence (Mo.): Benton speaks 
at, 117 note 164. 

Indians: 84, 85 note 106, 91, 116 ff, 
119, 120, 121 ff, 135, 137, 143, 145. 
148, 155, 157, 165-166, 180. See 
also Guthrie, Immediate, and Wy- 

Internal Improvements: 61 note 73, 
70, 186. 

Iowans: interest of in Nebraska, 100, 
103, 169 note 236, 174, 176 ff, 178 
note 252. 

Ioiva Republican: quoted, 130. 

lonza State Gazette: quoted, 84 note 
106, 177 note 251, 179. 

Jackson", Andrew: 30; quoted, 31, 
32 note 27. 

Jackson Claiborne F. : 34 note 30, 
38, 40 note 37. 

Jackson (Mo.): resolutions of meet- 
ing in, 47 note 48 ; Benton's speech 
at, 75. 

Jackson Resolutions.: adopted, 38; 
quoted, 38 ff; authorship of, 39 
note 37; purpose of, 50 note 52, 
54 note 59, 55; Benton's appeal 
from, 39 ff; form anti-Benton 
platform, 50; alleged fraud in 
passage, 54; in campaign of 1852, 
69 note 86 ; Benton's letter to 
Boonville Observer concerning, 
69 note 86; in Missouri legisla- 
ture of 1852, 70-71; connection 
with the Repeal, 107. 
Jefferson City (Mo.): Benton's 



speech at, quoted, 30 note 21, 31, 

32, 40-47. 
Jefferson Examiner: quoted, 132. 
Jefferson Inquirer: quoted, 50 note 

53, 69 note 87, H2, 140. 
Johnson, Hadley D.: 175 ff, 20S note 

Johnson, Rev. Thomas: 146, 147, 

14S, 150, 151, 153, 155, 157, 20S 

note 292. 
Judges: Benton assails the Missouri 

judges, 46, 5S. 

Kansas: early slavery in, 88 note 

Kansas City: Benton speaks at, 117 
note 164, 253. 

Kansas-Nebraska Bill: 16, 28, 50, 
162, 173, 185, 186, 207, 20S, 210, 
214, 221-223, 225, 226, 22S, 237, 
243, 258, 261, 264, 266 note 36S, 
277 ff. See also Administration, 
Atchison, Benton, Blair, F. P., Jr., 
Cabinet, Clayton Amendment, 
Compromise of 1850, Congress, 
Dixon, Dodge, Douglas, Johnson, 
Missouri Compromise, Missouri 
Politics, Parker, Repeal, and Su- 

Kapp's: Geschichtc der Sklavcre;, 
cited, 17 note 3. 

Kasson, John A.: 173, 260. 

Keyster, A.: 260. 

Kickapoo (Kans.) : convention at, 
14S ; resolutions adopted at, 149 ff. 

King, Vice-President Wm. R. : 216 
note 304. 

Klippel, Adam: letter to S. P. Chase, 
57 ff- 

Kreckel, A.: 173, 260. 

Lamb, A. W. : 263. 
Lanphier and Walker: Douglas's let- 
ter to, 1S4 ff. 

Letters: of J. S. Green replying to 
Benton, 52 ff; of Adam Klippel to 
Chase, 57 ff; of J. S. Bowlin to 
his constituents, 59; of S. P. Chase 
to E. S. Hamlin, 159 note 224; of 
A. S. Latty to S. P. Chase, 1S1 
note 255; of Douglas to Walker 
and Lanphier, 185-186; of F. P. 
Blair, Jr., to Missouri Democrat, 
202 note 283, 232 note 324; of 
Dixon to Foote, 209 note 295, 210 
note 297. 

Of Andrew Jackson: to W. B. 
Lewis, 31 ; to B. F. Butler, 32 note 

Of Benton: to "The People of 
Missouri" (1849), +1 note 40, 
(1853) 76; discussing union with 
Calhounites, 62-63 ,' to Boonville 
Observer, 69 note 86; to citizens 
of Cole Count}-, 76, 116 ff, 255; 
to citizens of Monroe Countv, 121 ; 
to Mix, 120. 

Of J. C. Calhoun: to A. P. Cal- 
houn, 44 note 45; to T. G. 
Clemson, 59 note 65 ; to A. W. 
Venable, 59 note 65. 

Of Atchison: replying to Ben- 
ton's Appeal, 52 ; to S. Treat, 78 
note 100; to Secretary of Inter- 
ior, 124-125 ; to Missouri Examin- 
er, 156 note 221. 

Of Many penny: to Benton, 120; 
to Atchison, 126; to Independence 
Reporter, 128-129. 

Of Guthrie: to X. Y. Tribune, 
153 note 215; to Dawes, S3 note 
102, 91 note 124; to Washburn, 87 
note 109; to Wm. Walker SS, 90. 

Lindley, J. W. : 101, 263. 

Lingenfelter, L. : 177. 

Louisville Courier: quoted, 67 note 

"Lynceus": pseudonym, 277 note 377. 



McEvven, Wm.; 177. 
McKissick, C. W.: 177. 
Manypenny, George W.: Commis- 
sioner of Indian Affairs; letter to 
Benton on Map, 120; letter to 
Atchison, 125 ; letter of Independ- 
ence Reporter, 128 ; mentioned in 
Kickapoo resolutions, 149 ; attack- 
ed by Guthrie, 152, 153 note 215; 
visits Nebraska Indians, 154 ff, 
162 note 228; meets the Wyan- 
dotts, 155-156; object of visit, 158; 
fails to negotiate treaties, 157 ff; 
charges based thereon, 156 ff; 
relations with Atchison, 156 ff; 
Atchison's letter to Missouri Ex- 
aminer, 156 note 221; accom- 
panied by Johnson and Whitfield, 
157; hostility of Bentonites, 158 
note 223; instructions quoted, 158; 
report quoted, 155 note 219, 157 
note 222, 159; pro-slavery sympa- 
thies, 158 note 224; censured by 
Andrew County meeting, 165 note 

Comments on: St. Joseph Ga- 
zette, 125 note 174; N. Y. Even- 
ing Post, 181; N. Y. Journal of 
Commerce, 182; Missouri Repub- 
lican, 199. 

Mason, Senator J. M. : 212, 213, 214, 
230 ff. 

Mayall, S.: 107 note 149. 

Means, Wm. C: 176. 

Methodist Church: 84, 85 note 107, 

Miller, J. G.: 100, 196, 263. 

Miller, O. C: 147. 

Mississippian, The: quoted, 190 ff. 

Missouri Compromise: restriction on 
slavery, 22, 39, 104, 168, 179; op- 
position of Judge Price, 35; Mis- 
souri legislative resolutions en- 
dorsing, 37; Atchison's attitude to- 
ward, 104, 134 ff; repudiated by 

the North, 93 note 125, 188, 190, 
191. See also Atchison, Benton, 
Compromise of 1850, Kansas-Ne- 
braska, Price, W. C, and Repeal. 
Missouri Examiner: Atchison's let- 
ter to, 156 note 221. 
Missouri Legislature: memorial on 
Texas, 32, 262 ; resolutions against 
Texas, 32 note 28; Jackson reso- 
lutions in, 38, 46, 54 note 59, 262; 
party divisions in, 64 ff; session 
of 1850-51, 64 ff ; message of pro- 
Benton caucus, 64; reply of anti- 
Benton caucus, 64; anti-Benton 
resolution by Mr. Hill, 65 ; elec- 
tion of Geyer to Senate, 66 ; re- 
marks of Mr. Stewart, 66 note 
81; special session, 1852, 70; reg- 
ular session, 53, 71; memorial for 
Nebraska Territory, 97 ; resolu- 
tions on Benton and Pacific Rail- 
road, 171 note 239; resolutions en- 
dorsing popular sovereignty, 172- 
173; comment of Missouri Repub- 
lican, 172 note 240. 
Missouri Politics: 24; Democratic 
dissensions, 27 ff; effect of Ben- 
ton's appeal and canvass, 58, 59, 
64 note 77; position of Whigs, 51 
note 54, 60, 61, 63, 68 note 87; 
campaign of 1850, 61, 63, 64; at- 
tempts to heal party schism, 62, 
67; campaign of 1852, 67 ff; 
state Democratic convention, 67- 
68 ; Benton's election to the House, 
68 ff; campaign of 1853, 109 ff, 
114; alignment of press, m; re- 
lation of Repeal to senatorial con- 
test, 219 ff. See also Anti-Ben- 
ton, Atchison, Benton, Calhoun, J. 
C, Congress, Douglas, Jackson 
Resolutions, Letters, Missouri Leg- 
islature, Pacific Railroad, Parker, 
Price, W. C, Resolutions, and 



Missouri Republican: 111 note 156; 
quoted, 119 note 165, 127, 199, 214, 
215 note 303, 221, 223, 224, 271. 

Missourians: interest in Nebraska 
territorial movement, 82, 100, 101, 
114, 136 ff, 163, 164, 167, 169 ff, 
173, 258 ff, 270 ff. See also An- 
drew County, Nebraska Conven- 
tion, Parkville, St. Joseph, and St. 

Monroe Count}' (Mo.) : Benton's 
letter to the citizens of, 121. 

Mundy, Isaac: 147. 

Napton, Judge W. B.: 39 note 37, 
46 note 46. 

National Intelligencer: quoted, 144 
note 199, 154 note 218, 161 note 
227, 176 note 250. 

National Quarterly Review: Col. 
Parker's article in, quoted, 229, 
264 ff. 

Nebraska: territorial bills, 15, 20, 
22, 81, 90, 94 ff, 98, 99, 100, 1x8, 
122, 195 ff, 238 ff; Douglas's lack 
of interest in, 19, 83 note 103, 94 
ff, 98 note 134, 99-100; final move- 
ment for territorial government, 
81 ff; and Pacific Railroad, 75-76, 
81, 87, 107, 143 ff, 150; recom- 
mendation of Secretary Wilkins, 
95-96; memorial of Missouri leg- 
islature, 97; Delegate to Congress, 
147, 250; Missouri politicians and, 
144 note 198, 150; Provisional 
Government, 143 ff; organization 
favored by Benton, 89 and by 
Atchison, 102 ff; controversy over 
"immediate" settlement, 115 ff; 
Dodge's resolution in Senate, 99- 
100; Parkville resolutions, 82 
note 102 ; Kickapoo convention 
and resolutions, 148-149; organiz- 
ation anticipated, 178 ff, 183, 191, 
193 ff; Andrew county resolutions, 

164 ff; St. Joseph resolutions, 168; 
Manypenny's visit to, 154 ff; 
Manypenny recommends territor- 
ial government, 161. See also 
Atchison, Benton, Douglas, Emi- 
gration, Guthrie, Immediate, In- 
dians, Iowans, Johnson, Kansas- 
Nebraska, Letters, Missourians, 
Pacific Railroad, Public Meetings, 
and Resolutions. 

New Orleans Crescent: quoted, 69. 

Newspapers: pro-Benton and anti- 
Benton, in Missouri, 51 note 54, 
58, in. See also Bibliography. 

New York Courier: quoted, no. 

New York Evening Post: quoted, 156 
note 221, 181. 

New York Herald: quoted, 212 ff. 

New York Independent: quoted, 170 
note 238. 

New York Journal of Commerce: 
quoted, 181, 220. 

New York Tribune: quoted, 276 ff. 

Nicholson, O. P.: 273. 

Nullification: 30, 49 note 51, 60 note 
73, 63. 

O'Driscoll, B.: 167. 
Oliver, Mordecai: 247, 263. 

Pacific Railroad: championed by 
Benton, 72 ff; interest of Wyan- 
dotts in, 73, 81, 85, 86 note 108, 
142 ; connection with Nebraska 
territorial movement, 75-76, 81, 87, 
107, 143 ff, 150; Atchison's posi- 
tion toward, 77 ff, 260 note 357; 
route of, 72, 79, 142 ff, 237 ff; in- 
terest of Illinois in, 237 ff; as an 
issue in Missouri, 114; Lindley re- 
fers to, 101 ; Douglas's interest in, 
186, 237 ff. 

Resolutions on: Wyandott Con- 
vention, 144; Kickapoo Conven- 
tion, 149; Andrew County resolu- 



tions, 165 note 232; Nebraska 
Convention, 169 note 237. 

Parker, Col. John A.: credibility dis- 
cussed, 264 ff; his Secret History 
of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, 229, 
264 ff; on origin of Repeal, 266 
note 368, 270 ff; removal as li- 
brarian, 267 ff. 

Parkville (Mo.) : Atchison's speech 
at, 77, 123, 134, 136, 256, 281; 
meeting of citizens, 81; resolu- 
tions, 82; presented to the Senate, 
99; Luminary, 276 ff, 284. 

Paxton, Wm. M.: Annals of Platte 
County, Missouri, quoted, 49 note 

Phelps, J. S.: 80, 86 note 107, 90 
note 120, 91, 97, 114. 

Phillips, Phillip: 213, 214. 

Phillips, William: Conquest of Kan- 
sas, quoted, 84 note 106, 88 note 
114, 148 note 207. 

Phillips, Waldorf H.: 265 ff. 

Pierce, Charles W. : 177. 

Pierce, Franklin: 79 note 100, 80, 
no, in note 155, 212 ff, 214. 

Platte Argus: 82 note 102, 277. 

Platte City (Mo.) : incident during 
Benton's speech, 49 note 50; Atch- 
ison's speech at, 23, 134, 281; res- 
olutions of citizens, 226 note 319. 

Platte County (Mo.): Paxton's An- 
nals of, quoted, 49 note 50. 

Platte Territory: Hall's bill for or- 
ganization of, 81 note 101, 90, 99. 

Polk, Trusten: 34 note 30, 290. 

Polk, President James K.: 31. 

Popular Demand (for territorial 
government in Nebraska). See 
also Immediate, Iowans, Missour- 
ians, Public Meetings and Resolu- 
Popular Sovereignty: Douglas and, 
18; favored by Atchison, 135, 137, 
189 ff, 255 ff; Missouri Republi- 

can on, 172 note 240; discussed 
by Richmond Enquirer, The Mis- 
sissippian, and Albany Argus, 
118 ff. 

Endorsed: by Missouri legisla- 
ture, 39, 172-173, 227; by Andrew 
County, 165; by St. Joseph meet- 
ing, 168; by Nebraska Conven- 
tion, 170. 

Pottawatomie County (Iowa) : Ne- 
braska meetings, 178 note 252. 

Price, Sterling: 34. 

Price, Thomas L. : 173, 260. 

Price, W. A.: 164. 

Price, Judge William C. : 33, 34, 46, 
66; hostility to Benton, 34-35; 
suggest Repeal to Benton, 35; 
claims authorship of the Repeal, 
36 note 32; on plans of Missouri 
radicals, 105 note 147; on emigra- 
tion of Wyandotts, 85 note 107; 
importance in the Repeal move- 
ment, 243 ; sketch of, 243 ff ; on 
the settlement of Nebraska, 250; 
on slavery agitation among Wy- 
andotts, 251. 

Provisional Government of Nebras- 
ka: early steps in the establish- 
ment of, 144; organized, 147; 
Wm. Walker's comment upon, 
152; Guthrie's account of, 153 
note 215. See also Guthrie, John- 
son, Nebraska, Walker, Wm., and 

Public Meetings: in Missouri and 
Iowa, 164 ff, 167, 169, 170 note 
2 38> 173, 176. See also Immedi- 
ate, Iowans, Missourians, and 

Rector, Hon. Benj.: 177. 
Reeder, A. H.: 152. 
Reid, Col. J. W. : 49 note 50. 
Repeal of the Missouri Compromise: 
15, 16, 20, 22, 24, 28, 29, 34 note 



30, 35, 36 note 321, 72, 81, 93, 105, 
106, 138-139, 140, 141, 153 note 
215, 168, 170, 179, 180, 182, 183, 
186, 192, 196, 201, 202, 207, 209- 

211, 214, 215, 217-219, 221-222, 
227, 229, 233, 237, 242, 243, 258, 

269, 272-275, 277 ff, 286. See al- 
so Anti-Benton, Atchison, Benton, 
Blair, Compromise of 1850, Doug- 
las, Missouri Compromise, Price, 
W. C, and Supersedure. 

Reports: of Commissioner Manypen- 
ny, 155 note 219, 159; of Senate 
Committee on Territories, Jan. 4, 
1854, 204 ff, 208 ff. 

Resolutions: against "immediate" an- 
nexation, 32 note 28 ; pro-Benton, 
37; anti-Benton, 38, 64-65; Jack- 
son legislative, 38 ff; of Texas, 
Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and 
North Carolina, 41 ; of Jackson 
(Mo.), 47 note 48; of Liberty 
(Mo.), 51 note 54; of Calhoun in 
U. S. Senate, 43 ff; of Parkville 
(Mo.), 82; of Wyandott Conven- 
tion, 144 ff; of Andrew County, 
164 ff; of St. Joseph, 167; of Ne- 
braska Convention, 169 ff; of pro- 
slavery meeting in Missouri, 170 
note 238 ; of Missouri legislature 
on Pacific R. R., 171 note 239; of 
Missouri legislature on popular 
sovereignty, 172 ff; of St. Louis 
meeting, 173, 260; of Pottawat- 
omie County meeting, 178 note 
252; of Platte City meeting, 226. 

Review of Political Action in Mis- 
souri: quoted, 56 note 62, 68 note 
84, 69 note 86. 

Rhodes, J. F. : on Douglas's motives, 

Richardson, W. A.: 88, 90, 91, 195, 

Richmond Enquirer: quoted, 188, 
198, 268 note 370. 

Right of Instruction: 53 ff, 65. 

Ritchie, Thomas: 266. 

Road to India: 74 note 91, 79 note 

100, 80, 119 note 165. 
Rusk, Senator T. J.: 94, 285. 

St. Joseph Gazette: quoted, 125 
note 174, 140. 

St. Joseph Meeting: proceedings of, 
167 ff. 

St. Louis (Mo.): Nebraska meeting, 
173, 260; interest in territorial 
question, 261. 

St. Louis Everting Nezvs: quoted, 

St. Louis Intelligencer: quoted, 192 
note 268. 

Samuels, G. W. : 164. 

Sarpy's: proceedings at, 175 ff. 

Savannah Sentinel: quoted, 122 note 

Schouler, James: on Douglas's mo- 
tives, 16. 

Senate: Committee on Territories, 
195 note 272; votes analyzed, 219 
note 307, 238 ff. 

Senatorial Campaign of 1S53: in 
Missouri, 109 ff. 

Sharp, Col. J. L. : 177. 

Sheldon, A. E. : his and J. Amos 
Barrett's new explanation of 
Douglas's motives, 19 note 8, 237 

Sidney (Iowa) : meeting at, 176. 

Slavery Question in Kansas-Nebras- 
ka: 18, 35, 85 note 107, 88, 90, 92 
note 124, 93, 98, 104, 105 note 147, 
108, 114, 131, 132, 135 ff, 139- 
140, 141, 145-146, 150 note 209, 
153 note 215, 158, 165, 168, 170, 
171 note 239, 172, 179, 180, 181, 
182, 183, 186, 188 ff, 190-191, 196, 
198, 199, 201, 202, 203, 205, 207, 
212-213, 22I > 228, 253 ff, 272, 280. 



Smith, Prof. Theodore C. : on Doug- 
las's motives, 17 note 6. 

Smith, Rev. William: 247. 

Snyder, Judge: 177. 

Solomon, Dan H.: 177. 

Starr, Rev. Frederick: 276 note 377. 

Stiles, George P.: 177. 

Stuart, Senator C. E.: 218. 

Supersedure: doctrine of, 21, 187 ff, 
193 ff, 203, 209, 213, 217-218. 

Switzler, Col. Wm. F. : quoted, 59, 
60, 66, 70, 71. 

Texas: annexation of, 30, 31, 32. 
Toombs, Senator Robert: 34, 247, 

248, 283, 284, 287. 
Tucker, Beverly: 273. 
Turley, Marshall: 177. 
Tyler, John: 31. 

Van Buskirk, Judge Daniel: 164. 
Venable, A. W.: Calhoun's letter to, 
quoted, 59 note 65. 

Walker, Senator I. P.: 21S. 

Walker, M. R.: 148. 

Walker, William: Provisional Gov- 
ernor of Nebraska Territory, 85 
note 106, 147; proclamation of, 
147 ; on election of Delegate to 
Congress, 152; Journal, quoted, 
151, 153 note 215, 155 note 220; 
Notes on Nebraska, quoted, 86 
note 108, 87 note no, 91, 174 ff. 

Washington (D. C.) : Missouri sen- 
atorial contest transferred to, 29, 
141, 195 ff, 198, 199, 205, 214, 
215 note 303, 220 ff, 227, 255 ff. 

Washington Correspondence: of 
newspapers, 64 note 77, 67 note 
83, no, 181, 197, 198, 199, 204, 
205, 214, 215 note 303, 220, 221, 
223, 225, 268 note 370. 

Western F.a^le, The: quoted, 44 
note 45, 47 note 48, 50 note 52, 

52 note 55, 64 note 77, 66 note 81. 

Weston (Mo.) : Atchison's speech at, 
77, 79 not e 100, 119, 134, 257-258; 
Reporter's inquiry of Atchison, 
119; Benton speaks at, 117 note 

Westport (Mo.) : 253, 255, 281. 

Whigs: in Missouri, as affected by 
Benton's Appeal, 60; attitude to- 
ward Benton, 51 note 54, 60 note 
73, 61, 70, 71 ; Benton's attitude 
toward, 63, 68 note 87; attitude 
toward Jackson Resolutions, 60 
note 73. 

Whitfield, Gen. J. W.: 145, 157. 

Wilkerson, Representative: 49 note 

Wilkins, William: report recom- 
mending creation of territorial 
government in Nebraska, 95. 

Wilmot Proviso: Southern legisla- 
tive resolutions on, 41 ; Benton's 
position on, 47 note 48, 55 ; Atch- 
ison's position on, 52 note 55, 113; 
Green's discussion of, 54 ff ; senti- 
ment in Missouri toward, 56. See 
also Atchison, Benton, and Green. 

Wilson, Senator Henry: speech 
quoted, 282 ff. 

Wilson, Woodrow: on Douglas's 
motives, 17. 

Wyandott Indians: residence in 
Ohio, 83; civilization of, 83 ff; 
emigration to Nebraska, 84, 85 
note 107; slavery agitation among, 
85 note 107, 251; and Benton's 
railway project, 73 ; interest in 
Pacific R. R., 73, 81, 85, 86 note 
108, 142; and establishment of 
territorial government in Nebras- 
ka, 75-76, 81, 87, 143 ff; elect 
Delegate to Congress, 87 ; con- 
vention of, 144; renominate Guth- 
rie, 147; dissatisfaction with 
Johnson's election, 151-152; visit- 

INDEX 315 

ed by Manypenny, 155-156. See itics, Nebraska, Pacific Railroad, 

also Atchison, Benton, Guthrie, Price, W. C, Provisional Gov- 

Immediate, Letters, Missouri Pol- ernment, and Walker, Wm. 


m ,~